Roadblocks: Are Sobriety Checkpoints Effective?

“Sobriety checkpoints”, better known as roadblocks, might not be reducing the number of “alcohol-related” fatalities on the nation’s highways. A recent study found that states that do not have sobriety checkpoints have a lower number of alcohol-related fatalities than states that do have them. States that do not allow roadblocks include Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

The 11 states that are not using roadblocks experienced a collective drop of 91 fewer alcohol-related fatalities in 2005 compared to 2004. The 39 states, plus the District of Columbia, that operate roadblocks saw a collective increase in alcohol-related deaths, according to the study.

Georgia is one of the states that use sobriety checkpoints. In 2004 in Georgia, there were 461 alcohol-related fatalities in the state, based on blood alcohol content level of .08 or greater, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In South Carolina for the same time period, there were 410 deaths. In 2005, those numbers changed to 463 deaths in Georgia and 396 deaths in South Carolina. In 2004 in Iowa, a non-roadblock state, there were 92 alcohol-related deaths based on a blood alcohol content level of .08 or greater. In 2005, there were 102 deaths.

In 2004 in Michigan, another non-roadblock state, there were 368 alcohol-related deaths based on a blood alcohol content level of .08 or greater. In 2005, there were 363 deaths. A reason why states that do not hold sobriety checkpoints might have fewer alcohol-related fatalities is because checkpoints are in many states highly visible by design and publicized in advance. Chronic alcohol abusers can easily avoid roadblocks, according to John Doyle, executive director of the American Beverage Institute.

“Waiting for drunk drivers to find themselves in a highly publicized roadblock is kind of like waiting for a fish to jump in your boat,” Mr. Doyle said. “(They) are too aware of where the roadblocks are.” Mr. Doyle said it is a waste of time to have 12 or more law enforcement officers standing at a roadblock when they could be out tracking down impaired drivers. Many of the people who are stopped at roadblocks haven’t been drinking.

“The people who are told that drunk driving is dangerous probably already know that,” he said. “But drunks can avoid roadblocks.”


Written by Allen Trapp who is board certified by the National College for DUI Defense and the author of Georgia DUI Survival Guide Visit Website

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One Response to “Roadblocks: Are Sobriety Checkpoints Effective?”

  1. […] A Guide for Everything Related to DUI in Georgia « Roadblocks: Are Sobriety Checkpoints Effective? 08.22.06 […]

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