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Are DUI arrest numbers worth the cost of Maryland checkpoints?

During the holidays, the number of DUI checkpoints around the country generally rises. However, there is some doubt in Maryland and elsewhere about the feasibility and effectiveness of these checkpoints. The DUI arrest numbers may not substantiate the cost.

Of course, no one advocates drunk drivers being on the road. The question is whether checkpoints are an effective way to stop people from drinking and driving. There are other activities behind the wheel that have been likened to drunk driving, such as texting and driving, that will not necessarily be caught through the use of a checkpoint.

Yet, texting and driving causes numerous accidents each year, and many states have passed laws against the practice. However, the fines for texting and driving are nowhere close to the repercussions for drinking and driving. Drivers convicted of DUI can suffer consequences ranging from fines to prison time and everything in between.

A study here in Maryland could find no evidence indicating that checkpoints changed the perceptions of drivers or reduced the amount of drunk drivers and drunk driving accidents in our state. There are a handful of states that made checkpoints illegal after a 1990 U.S. Supreme Court decision ruled that checkpoints were not a Fourth Amendment violation. Many jurisdictions admit that checkpoints are used more as a deterrent than a way to catch drunk drivers.

DUI arrest numbers at checkpoints may be significant on occasion, but those statistics do not necessarily translate to convictions. Just because someone is charged with a crime does not mean they will be found guilty of that crime in a court of law. An arrest can be made based on any number of factors, but eventually, those factors will have to stand up to scrutiny in a courtroom before any conviction can be obtained.

Source: townhall.com, DUI Checkpoints: Yay or Nay?, Rachel Alexander, Nov. 25, 2013

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