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Thousands Stopped at DUI Checkpoints, Only 7 Are Arrested for DUI

Lawmakers and enforcers around the country are on a mission to end drunk-driving. Driving drunk can quickly lead to property damage, injury, and death, so it’s no surprise that society wants to put a stop to it. The question is, what are the best ways to keep people from driving drunk in the first place? How about traffic and DUI checkpoints?

WHJL, a news station based out of Tennessee wanted to find out how effective DUI checkpoints were in putting a stop to DUIs, here’s what they found.

The station combed the records of both local and state police that dealt with ten sobriety checkpoints, more commonly known as DUI traps. The records came from police in a portion of Northeast Tennessee.

WHJL found that out of 3,300 individual stops along these checkpoints, only seven were charged with DUI. This is less than less than .02% percent of those stopped, according to the records. One case that was dismissed by prosecutors is not included on the list.

DUI just cracked the top 10 of charges or citations issued during the checkpoints. The most common violation was improper or missing registration with 43 charges, followed by equipment charges at 27, and seat belt charges coming in third with 15 charges. The 7 DUI charges ranked 8th on the list of citations or charges.

This has many critics of the checkpoints pointing at their ineffectiveness.

Defense attorney Don Spurrell is one of those opponents. “It’s an ineffective use of law enforcement resources,” Spurrell said. Spurrell doesn’t believe the traps are making anyone safer on the roads but instead becoming a nuisance. “Show me the numbers,” he said. “Show me it works and maybe I’ll agree with it.”

Critics like Spurrell are also critical of the trap’s obtrusiveness. In most cases, these people would never be pulled over, as most of the charges issued at the DUI checkpoints were minor violations.

Proponents of the checkpoints argue that the Supreme Court ruled on the legality of the stops more than three decades ago and that all checkpoints are made public knowledge. Kingsport Police Department, Public Information Officer Tom Patton, stated that the idea isn’t just to catch those driving under the influence, but to be a deterrent to those would drink and drive in the first place.

Though critics have made their points, Tennessee police aren’t looking to change the law or the checkpoints anytime soon.

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