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NCJ Number: 136268 Find in a Library
Title: Sobriety Checkpoints: Balancing Public Safety and Fourth Amendment Rights
Journal: Criminal Justice Journal  Volume:12  Issue:2  Dated:(Spring 1990)  Pages:135-165
Author(s): B A Lewis
Date Published: 1990
Page Count: 31
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Case law demonstrates that sobriety checkpoints cannot be operated without some degree of intrusion on the right of motorists to privacy.
Abstract: Although statistics indicate that drunk drivers are responsible for about 50 percent of all motor vehicle accidents, the justice system must balance the need for public safety against the fourth amendment rights of motorists. In the interest of public safety, law enforcement officials have set up sobriety checkpoints to apprehend drunk drivers. Sobriety checkpoints operate on an arbitrary basis, i.e., every fifth or sixth vehicle is stopped. Despite the lack of probable cause to stop each vehicle, drivers are questioned to determine if they have been drinking. This has generated numerous lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the checkpoints under the fourth amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld only those checkpoints which contain safeguards to protect the rights of motorists and which result in only a minimal intrusion. In general, therefore, case law suggests that sobriety checkpoints operated according to extremely strict guidelines and supervision will be upheld as constitutional under the fourth amendment. Checkpoints set up or operated by field officers acting entirely at their own discretion will likely be invalidated. Appendixes contain sobriety checkpoint operating policies and procedures of the Los Angeles Police Department. 182 footnotes
Main Term(s): Right of privacy; Sobriety checkpoints
Index Term(s): California; Driving Under the Influence (DUI); US Supreme Court decisions
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