Recently legislation has been brought forth in Washington state to reinstate DUI sobriety checkpoints. Currently there are 11 states in the country that do not employ DUI checkpoints, and Washington state happens to be one of them.
This practice ended in the 80's when the Washington State Supreme Court found it unconstitutional. Now some state lawmakers, including some political action committees want to bring it back citing the increased level of DUI fatalities in Washington state. According to data they cite Washington State is 6% higher in DUI fatalities than the national average.
Im all for making the roads safer for the residents of the State. But at what cost should we be doing this. Washington states constitution provides for greater privacy protections than the US Constitution. To conduct these roadblocks, pull over, interrogate, and invade a persons privacy rights through unconstitutional searches and seizures is a problem in my mind. Currently Washington state allows for DUI emphasis patrols. Im fairly certain that the areas where these patrols are being conducted are areas that have had greater DUI fatalities or DUI related accidents than other areas. Although I believe these patrols can create potential problems with pretextual stops, this has been found to be constitutional.
The other issue that DUI sobriety roadblocks can cause is the financial burden it will impose on tax payers. Think about it, to shut down entire roads or areas, man these areas with numerous officers and/or state troopers, the planning and implementing all comes at a cost. And guess who will foot that bill. We the tax payers will. In addition I would be curious as to what percentage these DUI sobriety checkpoints actually result in a DUI arrest. I have seen some statistics from other states that its less than 1%. Now to me that doesnt seem like enough of a return to conduct unconstitutional searches and seizures. But hey I guess thats just the sensible Defense Attorney in me who happens to be concerned with our State budget and increased taxes.
Keep an eye out for this. HB 1912 in the Washington state legislature. Should be interesting.