One reason why Traffic Checkpoints are publicized in advance is to deter to those drivers who may consider driving home after having one too many drinks.
Recent Traffic Checkpoint in Albemarle County
Wintertime generally sees an increase in drunk driving arrests and accidents. This includes certain holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve. The Albemarle County Police Department recently held a traffic checkpoint on Buck Mountain Road, the day after Christmas.
On December 26th, 2018, officers conducted a checkpoint between 8:30 PM and 11:30 PM. According to the police, 143 vehicles were screened during this checkpoint and zero arrests were made on suspicion of drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs.
What is the purpose of a DUI checkpoint?
Traffic checkpoints, also called sobriety checkpoints or DUI checkpoints, are not just used to catch suspected impaired drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), sobriety checkpoints are part of a high-visibility enforcement strategy that is intended to create a deterrence effect and reduce the number of impaired drivers who take to the road.
The Supreme Court has ruled that DUI checkpoints are generally constitutional. However, police have to follow certain requirements when conducting a traffic checkpoint, including requirements related to publicity, proper location and lighting, clear official identification of vehicles and officers, proper supervision, and only briefly stopping vehicles. When a traffic checkpoint doesn't follow these requirements, the police may violate an individual's constitutional rights during a checkpoint stop.
What do checkpoints catch other than drunk drivers?
Traffic checkpoints are promoted as ways to catch drunk drivers. Instead, many people are cited or arrested for other offenses when they are caught up in a DUI checkpoint. This includes those individual's with outstanding warrants, traffic citations, expired tags, or vehicle violations.
On December 2nd of 2016, Albemarle County PD held a checkpoint on Scottsville Road at Avon Street between 11:00 PM and 2:30 AM. At that checkpoint the police checked more than 200 vehicles. Police issued 9 summons' but there were no arrests related to drunk driving. Drivers were instead given citations or arrested for driving on a suspended license, possession of marijuana, and other traffic infractions.
In June of 2016, Albemarle County police held another DUI checkpoint which resulted in 9 traffic or other violations. Again, zero of the violations were related to drunk driving or driving under the influence.
Charlottesville DUI Defense Attorney
Unlike traffic stops, the police do not have to have a reason to stop drivers during a sobriety checkpoint. This can lead to innocent drivers facing questioning by police. Simply admitting to drinking a couple of beers at dinner could result in getting arrested on suspicion of a DUI even if the driver was under the legal limit. If you are arrested for a DUI, talk to an experienced Charlottesville DUI defense attorney about your case and how to fight Virginia DUI charges. Contact attorney Thomas M. Wilson today for a free consultation.