Putting the Brakes on Texas DWI Checkpoints

Texas DWI checkpointTexas DWI checkpoints were established to help increase safety on the roads. The events serve to weed out drunk or intoxicated drivers, with the additional benefit of discovering people with outstanding warrants or other problems. However, DWI checkpoints in Texas and across the U.S. all have one big problem: the danger posed to the law enforcement officers trying to keep the rest of us safe.

How to navigate a Texas DWI checkpoint safely:

  • If you see a checkpoint ahead in the distance, do not try to make a U-turn or otherwise turn your vehicle around. Other officers are watching and will take measures to ensure you are sober behind the wheel and not being evasive by driving away.
  • Politely answer questions and hand over your driver’s license, insurance card and other car documents upon request.
  • If you are asked to submit to a breathalyzer test, remember that if you refuse, you could be charged with an implied consent violation.
  • Keep your speed to a minimum until you are given the signal that you can drive away, and then do not speed or make any other actions beyond carefully driving away.

Many states with sobriety checkpoints have had issues with law enforcement officers injured or killed during the events. Maryland’s “Noah’s Law” (all-offender ignition interlock law) was named after an officer who was killed during a DUI checkpoint by a repeat drunk driver.

When you have not had a drop to drink and are still forced into a Texas DWI checkpoint, the additional time and effort can be a frustrating experience. However, with a little bit of understanding and patience, you will be well on your way before you know it. The safety of others on the road and that of the law enforcement officers providing the safety service are priorities. Let’s all give these officers and events a break and support sober driving in Texas, and across the U.S.

New Mexico Ignition Interlock… Checkpoint?

New Mexico ignition interlock checkpointWhile New Mexico ignition interlock law is tough, one of the biggest problems the state faces is the enforcement of those laws. Just because a court has ordered a DWI offender to install and maintain a New Mexico DWI, that doesn’t mean they’re following through. That does mean the streets aren’t as safe as they could be. New Mexico mandates an ignition interlock license and the installation of the device for anyone convicted of a DWI. The ignition interlock prevents the vehicle from starting if it registers a BAC greater than .025, thus preventing a person from driving intoxicated.

In April, New Mexico has pledged statewide saturation checkpoints in an effort to keep people from DWI driving. A saturation patrol is a police or military patrol tactic wherein a large number of officers are concentrated into a small geographic area. Saturation patrols are used for hot-spot crime reduction, DUI checkpoints, and other location-specific patrols. The other benefit? Saturation checkpoints often discover people with outstanding warrants, suspended licenses, and ignition interlock requirements.

If you have a New Mexico IID or if you question whether you’re okay to drive home after a few drinks, now is the time to step up and do the right thing, before you find yourself at a saturation checkpoint or worse. If convicted for DWI in New Mexico, you will be required to install an ignition interlock device on every vehicle you drive for a minimum period of one year. Additionally, if your license is revoked for violation of the New Mexico Implied Consent Act, you may apply for an interlock license.

If convicted, the court will order you to obtain an interlock license. This is a special driver’s license that prohibits you from driving a vehicle without an interlock device. If you have an interlock license on record and are pulled over by police in a non-interlock equipped vehicle, you will be arrested and charged with driving on a revoked driver’s license. You may also be in violation of your probation and face jail time.

We’re Thankful for Thanksgiving DUI Checkpoints

DUI Checkpoints thanksgivingThere probably aren’t a lot of people who see a DUI checkpoint and think, “Wow, I’m so lucky to get to do this tonight!” However, safe drivers who have nothing to hide will at least be relieved to get through the experience quickly. We’re thankful this holiday season for those sober drivers, and for the extra efforts made by law enforcement on Thanksgiving to increase DUI checkpoints and their own visibility in order to keep our streets safe.

The holiday season is historically the most dangerous time on the roads. From Thanksgiving through New Year’s, there are more DUIs and fatalities as a result of drunk drivers than any other time of the year. That’s why Thanksgiving night and Black Friday have an increase in DUI checkpoints – to ensure safer streets and remind everyone that holiday cheer is fine, as long as you have a safe plan to get home.

If you see a DUI checkpoint on the horizon, remember:

  • Do NOT turn around, unless you want to be stopped by law enforcement.
  • If you have not been drinking, your time at the DUI checkpoint will be a minimum.
  • There is a formula to each DUI checkpoint, ensuring vehicles are chosen at random.
  • You’re not only proving your commitment to safe driving but possibly helping train future law enforcement officers in DUI prevention.

Also, keep in mind that each law enforcement officer at a DUI checkpoint is putting their life on the line. Too many officers have been injured or killed while working DUI checkpoints, and that’s on us to prevent.

Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends and especially for sober driving. With the extra DUI checkpoints and the understanding of the dangers of drinking and driving, we can all remind each other to stay safe. If alcohol is part of the holiday festivities, find a designated driver to help guide you through any DUI checkpoints quickly and easily.

Fun Facts About Nebraska DUI Checkpoints

Nebraska DUI checkpoint factsWhile not all states have DUI checkpoints, due to legal issues surrounding their use, Nebraska law says that sobriety checkpoints are legal in their state. Sobriety checkpoints are an effective DUI deterrent; they are called DUI checkpoints for this reason. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) points out that almost 80 percent of all US states and territories allow DUI checkpoints. You can look up your State Highway Safety Offices (SHSO), which has additional information on our state’s sobriety checkpoint data and laws.

If you are headed into a Nebraska DUI checkpoint, here’s what to expect:

  • Nebraska DUI checkpoints usually happen during times when impaired driving is most likely to happen, like concerts and holidays (like Halloween or Super Bowl Sunday).
  • Sobriety checkpoints are set at a fixed location, and are always announced within a few days prior to the events.
  • The police may not require a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) breath test of everyone, but don’t be surprised if they at least ask the driver.
  • As with any other time you’re pulled over by a cop, it’s best to be respectful. Remember that the sobriety checkpoint is for the safety of the community, including yourself. Officers are in the line of fire each time a DUI checkpoint occurs.

If you do happen to be charged with a Nebraska DUI, whether from a checkpoint or a regular traffic stop, you can expect:

Sobriety checkpoints reduce the number of DUI drivers significantly, making any inconvenience of being pulled over worth the time and effort. Plus, DUI checkpoints across the U.S. are often responsible for finding criminals with outstanding warrants.

The Nebraska Department of Roads and Transportation can be reached at 402-471-2515.

If you see someone you think is driving under the influence, dial *55 or 911.

Plan Ahead for Missouri’s Early Bird DUI Checkpoints

Early DUI checkpoints in MissouriStatistically, the most dangerous day on the roads is New Year’s Day. Not New Year’s Eve, Cinco de Mayo or St. Patrick’s Day; the days that drinking plans are discussed for weeks, if not months in advance. It is actually the wee hours of the morning, from midnight until 3am that we are at our most vulnerable, which is why New Year’s Day is so dangerous, and why Missouri’s early bird DUI checkpoints may be a solution to day-after drunk drivers.

There’s no magic sobriety minute on a clock, so the drinks you drink at 10pm are likely still swimming through your veins at 1am, a mere three hours later. A DUI checkpoint after midnight gets right to the point and stops you from continuing your intoxicated drive home. You may be a little hungover and out of sorts as you sober up, but at least you weren’t involved in an accident. Also, you were probably pretty tired from drinking and maybe just from your day. That Missouri DUI checkpoint, while not entirely convenient, could have saved your life and the lives of others.

What should you do when you see a Missouri DUI checkpoint?

  • Follow the signs or signals from those running the checkpoint.
  • Provide your license, registration and proof of insurance as asked.
  • Answer questions from law enforcement.
  • Be on your way.

Missouri is a “no refusal” state, meaning that if you are stopped under the suspicion of a DUI offense (or at a DUI checkpoint) and you are asked to blow into a breathalyzer, you should go ahead and do it. If you refuse the breathalyzer, you could be at risk for a license suspension, ignition interlock requirement or other consequences.

Even though there’s more danger on the roads between midnight and 3am, that doesn’t mean DUI drivers aren’t a problem 24/7. When you’re planning your next big drinking holiday or just hanging out at happy hour with friends, you can plan a safe ride home and roll through those DUI checkpoints without a problem.

Safety Tips at Sobriety Checkpoints

DUI and sobriety checkpointLaw enforcement is not an easy job, yet there are men and women who commit to keeping us all safe each day, despite the risks. When it comes to sobriety checkpoints, the dangers to our police officers is pretty clear – they’re standing on the road, looking for people in cars who are too intoxicated to drive. At best, those drivers are caught, convicted and face consequences like an ignition interlock requirement. Unfortunately, there are situations where tragedy does strike, like the loss of an officer in New Jersey in 2010. Because a sobriety checkpoint is a potential disaster waiting to happen, please take the time to be safe when you are rolling through.

Take it easy. Slow down, don’t try to go around the checkpoint or turn around. If you are sober, your time during your screening will be minimal and you’ll be on your way. If you are possibly intoxicated, well, you don’t need to be driving, anyway.

Have your ID and insurance information ready. This is important because of the time factor. When people get antsy or frustrated during a wait, they’re more likely to do something rash. At a sobriety checkpoint, that rash behavior could very well result in the injury or death of a law enforcement officer or a civilian.

Cooperate with the officers. Even if you know you haven’t been drinking and are asked to pull over for further testing, you need to go ahead and do it. A sobriety checkpoint actually has a formula built into it that determines who is given additional screening (outside of probable cause). Again, you’re in the clear as long as you’re sober, and the extra tests really don’t take much time when you’re not under the influence of alcohol.

A sobriety checkpoint is an effective way to remove potentially dangerous, intoxicated drivers from the roads. It also finds those with other traffic violations and even outstanding warrants for arrest. Considering all of the good that the checkpoints do, the law enforcement officers who are running the show deserve respect and above all, your consideration for their safety.

Should You “U-Turn” at a DUI Checkpoint?

U-turn or DUI Checkpoint?For the majority of drivers on the road, DUI or sobriety checkpoints are just a hassle on the way home at night. For others, a DUI checkpoint can be seen as something to try to get around, whether for “civil rights” reasons, or, because they had a few too many drinks before heading home for the night. In any case, it is not all that uncommon to have a “knee-jerk” reaction when realizing there is a DUI checkpoint ahead, including trying to turn around or make a U-turn before the police can even see you. But, will that U-turn lead you into more of a hassle than just going through the motions of sober driving?

Perhaps, depending on your state, your U-turn style and other traffic-related factors. For instance:

  • In Virginia, you can only make a U-turn in an intersection (unless there are signs that indicate otherwise)
  • In California, a U-turn cannot include crossing the double yellow lines.
  • In Hattiesburg, Mississippi, U-turns are illegal everywhere.

If you see a DUI checkpoint and decide you would rather take your chances by driving another way, you will likely be under scrutiny by law enforcement. That U-turn is usually is not enough for an officer to stop you, unless you are demonstrating other behaviors that could indicate you are intoxicated behind the wheel. If you are driving erratically, or break any traffic rules during your U-turn (illegal turns, crossing the double yellow lines, etc.), law enforcement has probable cause to pull you over for those issues. If, during the traffic stop, you appear intoxicated, sobriety tests will likely follow… and if you are driving while intoxicated, you will find yourself headed straight for a DWI/DUI conviction, and the possibility of an ignition interlock device, community service and/or substance abuse treatment, as well.

Avoiding the hassle at a DUI checkpoint means that you take the initiative when driving to always remain sober. A U-turn will not keep you out of trouble if you have been drinking, and you could find yourself in a full tailspin of legal issues that are much easier avoided by just calling a taxi or a sober friend for a ride home.

Are DUI Checkpoints Risky?

DUI checkpoints stop risky driversWhen you’re riding around after a night of fun, there’s always a bit of risk on the roads. You don’t know if the driver beside you has been drinking or has a designated driver like you do. As a completely preventable crime, it is shocking when you consider how many drunk drivers haven’t gotten the message. Not only are they “armed and dangerous,” so to speak, but they might also avoid the “risk” of a DUI checkpoint by sticking to less-traveled roads… like those in your neighborhood.

Drunk drivers see DUI checkpoints as risks because they don’t want to get caught. They don’t want to go to jail, pay fines or have an ignition interlock requirement. Some like the thrill of getting away with a crime, and others are just too drunk to realize the danger they pose. A DUI checkpoint seems less of a risk and more of a challenge to avoid, one with deadly consequences for the rest of us driving responsibly.

Even with the imagined risk a DUI checkpoint holds, they are successful. DUI checkpoints find drunk drivers, and those who may have existing arrest warrants or other violations. DUI checkpoints aren’t around to hassle responsible drivers and they’re a big reminder that the only way to keep the streets safe is to drive safely.

The next time you hear about a DUI checkpoint or see one ahead of you, remember that the idea is to keep traffic moving and remove dangerous drivers from the road before something devastating happens.  You may not know if that other driver has been drinking, but you can trust that any law enforcement officer at a DUI checkpoint will know, and will take quick action to remove the real risk from the road: an intoxicated driver.

100 Days and Nights: Preventing DWI in New Mexico

DWI Enforcement and 100 Days of Safe Driving in New Mexico Even with the reduction of drunk drivers on the roads in New Mexico and the success rates of the state’s ignition interlock programs, New Mexico still sees plenty of room for improvement in keeping the streets safe. In fact, New Mexico has pledged 100 days of fierce crime fighting against dangerous drivers in the state this summer. Because of this foresight, one could even go so far to say that in the heat of summer, a tall, cold one is the last thing you need before hitting the road.

Drunk driving awareness and road safety campaigns are most commonly held in the summer, and around holidays and three-day weekends. Still, it is impressive to see a state that has already made such great strides against drunk driving continue to put forth a strong effort to reduce their DWI numbers even more. Plus, the campaigns can reach those who aren’t already required to use an ignition interlock (a consequence of a first-time DWI conviction in New Mexico): potential drunk drivers who have never been arrested or convicted of the charge. Considering that by the time a DWI offender is caught, they’ve likely driven while intoxicated 80 other times, these campaigns are vital to the safety of New Mexico’s residents, and in all of our communities.

Through September 30 in New Mexico, be on the lookout for more saturation patrols, sobriety checkpoints and a stronger law enforcement presence looking for drunk drivers. While you’re at it, make sure to plan ahead if you’ll be drinking and have a safe and sober way to get home. You don’t want any of your  100 days of summer to be wasted on a DWI, and there’s no better way to make those summer memories happy than by keeping yourself, your family and your friends safe behind the wheel.

Sobriety Checkpoints, Public Information and the Internet

ignition interlockThe Internet is a repository of information, and is used more and more for relaying important announcements within local areas and across the world. Because of the broad audience that can be informed through the Internet and especially through social media websites and services, many law enforcement agencies are using websites like Twitter and Facebook to publicly announce local information and alerts, including sobriety checkpoints. As is the case in many states, a sobriety checkpoint allows law enforcement to survey a portion of drivers for active arrest warrants, proper identification and automobile insurance and/or indications of drunk driving. Still, many wonder how effective sobriety checkpoints are if there is an announcement made publicly, especially online.

In areas where sobriety checkpoints are legal, public knowledge is essential to maintaining proper legal rights. Since the announcement of a sobriety checkpoint informs the public of the general location where law enforcement is checking vehicles and drivers, many feel these announcements only encourage people who will drive drunk to simply find a different area in which to commit that crime. While this is certainly possible, there is more to these announcements than meets the eye. By publicly announcing the sobriety checkpoint, any driver who drives through the checkpoint has essentially consented to sobriety testing, as he or she is considered “informed” of the event.

Sobriety checkpoints effectively deter drunk drivers and remind everyone that keeping sober before driving is essential. With 38 states currently conducting sobriety checkpoints at various points throughout the year, the effectiveness of the process is clear and is encouraged by government agencies and private organizations. Considering the alternatives to finding a sober ride home, including jail time, court costs and the installation of an ignition interlock device, the best plan for remaining free of any drunk driving charges is to remain sober behind the wheel.