Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) checkpoints are blockades set up by law enforcement to catch intoxicated drivers. Cars traveling through the checkpoint must stop and interact with a police officer. Intoxicated drivers are arrested, while sober drivers can continue on to their destination.
At DWI checkpoints, cars attempting to pass through must stop if asked to by a law enforcement officer. A police officer will typically walk up to the driver’s window and ask a few questions. If a driver exhibits suspicious behavior, officers may request that the driver perform a field sobriety test. Field sobriety tests include walking a straight line or saying the alphabet backward. The driver may also have to take a Breathalyzer test to determine the amount of alcohol in blood.
Every region sets its own maximum blood alcohol level for drivers. Some areas have a zero tolerance policy for drivers. In these areas, a driver with any amount of alcohol in his blood may lose his driving privileges.
Policies for punishing drivers who drive while intoxicated vary by region as well. If a police officer discovers an intoxicated driver at a DWI checkpoint, the officer will usually arrest that person. The vehicle normally is impounded, and the driver usually must pay a fee to recover it. Depending on the number of previous DWI offenses, an intoxicated driver may automatically lose their driving privileges for a certain period of time.
DWI checkpoints are most often set up at night or during the early morning hours. The police may stop only certain cars in order to avoid backing up traffic. For example, the police may stop every third car or they may randomly stop cars.
Some regions have different names for DWI checkpoints. Driving Under the Influence, or DUI, checkpoints are one alternative. Another name for this type of blockade is a sobriety checkpoint.
DWI checkpoints can catch other illegal activity and traffic infractions as well. For example, the police may issue citations to drivers who have expired licenses, broken headlights or other infractions. Not having a driver’s license or underage drinking are also crimes that may be caught at DWI checkpoints. The police may also arrest drivers for other crimes at DWI checkpoints, such as drug possession.
The practice of stopping all drivers at DWI checkpoints is controversial. Many people believe these stops violate certain laws, such as the fourth amendment to the United States Constitution. The fourth amendment protects US citizens against unwarranted search and seizure of personal property by government officials. While an officer may ask to search a driver’s car, the act of stopping a driver at a DWI checkpoint is not enough grounds in most regions to warrant a search without the driver’s permission.