Search Box

Monday, March 17, 2014

DUI enforcement zones

When I was driving back from Bethesda on Sunday I noticed a number of prominent signs along the highway saying, "DUI Enforcement Zone." I couldn't help but wonder, where are the DUI non-enforcement zones? (Next time I feel like driving drunk, I'll be sure to go there.)

If you Google "DUI enforcement zone," you'll find that they are a feature peculiar to Maryland. An excerpt from a release from the Maryland State Police:

(Pikesville, MD) -- To remind motorists they are serious about drunk driving enforcement and as part of an ongoing statewide campaign called “Checkpoint Strikeforce,” police departments across Maryland will begin placing “Drunk Driving Enforcement Zone” banners on roadsides where sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols occur.

Isn't this a bit like putting up a sign saying, This is an area where we will arrest drug dealers? Wouldn't that just motivate dealers to ply their trade elsewhere? It's sort of the opposite of a sting, in that it mostly helps the lawbreakers escape.  

It also reminds me of all those signs proclaiming various areas as "gun free zones." As has been pointed out by many others, those are essentially open invitations for any gunman with mayhem in mind to go berserk without fear of armed resistance. It seems counterproductive.

I'm glad that the Maryland state troopers want to stop drunk driving, though. I only hope they make a similar effort to catch motorists who drive dangerously fast. My suggestion: erect large signs saying, Speed Trap Ahead!


Chris Mallory said...

The point isn't to catch drunk drivers. Random road patrols do a much better job of that. The checkpoints are to give the cops an excuse to stop every driver, inspect the car and it's "papers" and make other arrests/citations. They rake in the big bucks with seat belt violations, no insurance, and other minor offenses. In Kentucky, they use "Safety" checkpoints. Like the government thugs are actually concerned with our safety.

John Craig said...

Chris --
That makes sense. Speed traps, like parking tickets and cameras mounted on traffic lights, are mostly for the purpose of raising revenue.

But even if the purpose is to raise revenue, wouldn't it be more effective to have those checkpoints without advertising them ahead of time?

Anonymous said...

I could swear "Checkpoint Strikeforce" was a Dolph Lundgren straight-to-video movie back in the 90s. Or maybe I'm thinking of "Strikeforce Checkpoint".

John Craig said...

Anon --
Ha! That does sound like a Lundgren movie.

Chris Mallory said...

The Supreme Court, in a 1990 decision, said that the check points had to be advertised with times and locations in order to pass 4th Amendment muster.

John Craig said...

Chris --
Ah, thank you. That clears it up. You're better informed than me.

bluffcreek1967 said...

Chris Mallory is exactly right! The advertisements of DUI checkpoints was the result of a court decision by a liberal judge who thought it wasn't 'fair' to drunk drivers if they weren't told the police were right up the road with big neon signs!

This is how liberals think.

This DUI checkpoint decision was similar to the thinking behind 1968's Miranda decision which required officers to admonish criminals of their constitutional right not to talk to the police.

Police are still able to get admissions by criminals because they're usually dumb, but what it did (like so many court decisions which don't take into account the nature of police work) is make an officer's job to apprehend and prosecute thugs so much harder and complicated.

arthur thurman said...


In Guam, the radio stations used to broadcast on Friday afternoons where the DUI checkpoints would be. (streets, intersections, etc) In essence, they were telling us the safest routes to go. My own thoughts on DUI arrests are borderline Minority Report so I won't get into that but still, it was a farce. Just like Chris Mallory explained. It gives the Authority a "reason" to inspect.

John Craig said...

Ambrose --
Now it all makes more sense. I hadn't thought of it as a liberal thing, just as a boneheaded move by the MD state police, but wouldn't you know there was a liberal behind it.

John Craig said...

Arthur --
That's funny. I guess that Guam as a US Territory is subject to the same laws as the rest of the country.

When I Googled "DUI enforcement zone" all that came up on the first page were references to Maryland, so I had figured it was a MD thing; but I guess it's nationwide.

Chris Mallory said...

You are right Bluff, Renquist and Scalia were bleeding heart liberals, they are 2 of the 5 who signed their names under the requirements.

Who cares about those pesky 4th and 5th Amendments.

When can we start handing out jackboots and snazzy black leather trench coats?

Might as well get rid of the requirement for search warrants too. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

bluffcreek1967 said...

Just a few thoughts in reply to Chris Mallory:

First, whether DUI checkpoints are in fact bona fide violations of the 4th and 5th Amendments are questions much too involved to get into on this site. However, if they truly were, I hardly doubt Reinquest and Scalia would have signed their names to it in the first place.

Secondly, whether DUI checkpoints are legitimate or not, the point is if you're going to have one, do it right by NOT advertising to the entire world when it will occur, the location, and with big neon signs. This is another example of the courts trying to appease both sides of a case and, more or less, further screwing things up. If they felt it was wrong and a violation of the 4th Amendment, it should have simply been stopped altogether rather than the silly rules applied to it with public advertisements, etc.

Thirdly, while Scalia is conservative, Reinquest was not always so. Either way, the majority decision went to the liberals on the bench.

Fourthly, the straw man analogy of search warrants won't fly because one's private residence is clearly assumed in the 4th Amendment. Moreover, driving is a privilege, not a right, and it can be revoked or suspended for various reasons.

bluffcreek1967 said...

If I may, I'd like to make a couple of additional points in reply to Chris Mallory.

"The point isn't to catch drunk drivers" - No, the point of DUI checkpoints IS to catch drunk drivers. Yes, in the process, people who are wanted and who don't have a driver's license are also apprehended (including other offenses, some minor and some serious).

Having worked numerous DUI checkpoints as an officer, I was glad to have been part of it because I personally arrested several folks who could have easily killed our families on the roadway due to their level of intoxication. I'm sure the families of those whose loved ones were killed by a DUI driver would have probably wanted a DUI checkpoint had it been available on the night of their loss.

"Random road patrols do a much better job of that" - Not necessarily, unless it's targeted enforcement usually done by a team of officers who specialize in DUI crimes. Officers on routine patrol don't often catch DUI drivers because they're either not looking for them (or miss the subtle nuances of an intoxicated driver) or because they're too busy going from one call to another.

I don't doubt that some cops have abused their authority at certain DUI checkpoints. I wouldn't defend everything that's been done under the banner of "safety checkpoints." Though imperfect, they have helped in keeping drunk drivers off the road and killing innocent people.

And while the Supreme Court has placed certain restrictions at DUI checkpoints, they have not been formally ruled as unconstitutional.