Harrisonburg Virginia DUI Attorney Bob Keefer says Independence Day DUI checkpoints are a waste

Our local tax dollars and our constitutional right to be left alone took a beating this 4th of July, 2008 in Harrisonburg, Virginia. 

Ironically choosing the date associated with Americans’ freedom from tyranny, Independence Day, Harrisonburg Police held sobriety checkpoints in two different parts of the city.  Supporters of less freedom claim that checkpoints are necessary because of the number of deaths on our highways.  They point to deaths related to alcohol not deaths caused by an alcohol impaired driver.  As I noted in a past blog, the devil is in the details. 

Word choice is important.  Caused by and related to are not the same.  The related to death toil is inflated about three times the number of fatalities caused by alcohol impaired drivers.  So government has lied to us about the justification.  What about the effectiveness of the DUI checkpoints.   At least checkpoints result in more DUI arrests?  Right? 

Wrong.  The police have limited resources and officers randomly stopping cars in the poor parts of town are not out patrolling.  The simple question should be do roving patrols make more DUI arrests than checkpoints? 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tells us that patrolling police actually make almost three times more DUI arrests than checkpoints.  Almost three times.  So we are actually less safe because of the DUI checkpoints. 

As the Harrisonburg Virginia news reported, the road block at

Norwood and Hawkins Streets stopped about 35 vehicles in one hour and none were DUI.  None.  This zero is consistent with the dissent in Michigan v Sitz that noted:  “the findings of the trial court, based on an extensive record and affirmed by the Michigan Court of Appeals, indicate that the net effect of sobriety checkpoints on traffic safety is infinitesimal and possibly negative”.  

The real reason for the checkpoints is not to stop impaired drivers it is to harass anyone who smells of alcohol and is operating a motor vehicle.  While the law says don’t drive impaired or with a blood alcohol content of .08 or more, the reality is don’t drive with any alcohol on your breath or in your system or face arrest.  As a

Harrisonburg officer was quoted:  “People need really to think… If they’re going to be out partying they need to keep in mind that when they get in a vehicle, they shouldn’t have been drinking.” 

Notice he did not say don’t drive drunk or with a blood alcohol content of .08 or more.  As a police superintendent in another jurisdiction said, checkpoints keep drivers aware that police are on the lookout for drunken drivers. He said there usually aren’t many DUI arrests at checkpoints, but they help educate the public. So roadblocks are not effective in producing arrests; they are justified on lies; and they waste taxpayer money and police resources.  

But they are good because they educate us that people innocent of drunk driving are subject to arrest because they have been drinking. Good lesson for independence day.

We represent people charged with DUI and reckless driving in Elkton, Virginia; Bridgewater, Virginia; Verona, Virginia;  Harrisonburg, Virginia; Rockingham County, Virginia; Staunton, Virginia; Augusta County, Virginia; Woodstock, Virginia; Waynesboro, Virginia; and Shenandoah County, Virginia. You can find information about my firm at:  www.bobkeeferlaw.com; www.bobkeeferlaw.org; www.keeferlawfirm.com; www.duidriver.net; www.recklessdriving.net; www.keefercard.comwww.injurycorner.com 

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