As I have spoken of elsewhere, one of the law enforcement practices motorists and lawyers most disdain in Hamilton County and elsewhere is that of sobriety checkpoints aimed at arresting drunk drivers.
Although in theory many law abiding citizens would be apt to endorse the practice of such random checkpoints, in reality the manner in which many of these roadblocks have been implemented has caused considerable agitation among even the most vocal advocates against drunk driving.
Common sense has dictated that the most thoroughly traveled thoroughfares be targeted for such dui enforcement. The time devoted in officer hours to man such checkpoints combined with the considerable taxpayer expense of their implementation compel such practices that inevitably frustrate most drivers.
Predictably, the strategic law enforcement decisions as to utilizing checkpoints in the most heavily trafficked roadways always result in traffic congestion and extreme inconvenience to motorists.
Yet, I think it would surprise many to discover that despite the universal negative impact these checkpoints always have upon motorist activity, such inconvenience will rarely, if ever, be outweighed in benefit by a significant number of corresponding dui arrests at a particular checkpoint.
Much statistical analysis does exist to analyze the considerable objective financial costs with which to assess sobriety checkpoints with resulting dui prosecutions. Curiously, no such data will be usually forthcoming to investigate how many drivers have been checked at a particular checkpoint to compare with the number of resulting arrests.
There simply is little incentive for law enforcement agencies to promote the distribution for such information to reach the general public.
Were police agencies to conduct exhaustive research in order to demonstrate how few dui arrests have been typically made as a result of the standard sobriety checkpoint, the use of such practices to bolster law enforcement’s arrest statistics could potentially be curtailed considerably.
The United States Supreme Court has endorsed the use of sobriety checkpoints under certain legal conditions as to how the roadblocks will be implemented. As a result, should respective states wish to utilize this questionably effective law enforcement practice to curb drunk driving they may do so.
Significantly, not all states have taken the proverbial legal bait that the U.S. Supreme Court has given them. While I can only speculate as to why not all states have found the use of these roadblocks to be in compliance with their own state constitutions, I strongly believe that economic considerations play a strong role.
Although many states have prohibited the use of sobriety checkpoints within their borders premised upon fourth amendment considerations against illegal search and seizure, my opinion as to the real motivation behind such prohibitions against sobriety checkpoints differs with such analysis.
From a political perspective, public officials within economically difficult times must be able to cost justify the effective use of the limited taxpayer funding available to local and state governments.
When truly analyzing the effectiveness of sobriety checkpoints, I believe other states have not determined the practice cost justified. Although the above referenced figures as to number of drivers checked versus corresponding dui arrests will never easily be forthcoming, I suggest that other state public officials have spoken on the issue by failing to justify the use of this law enforcement practice within their own respective states.
Were considerable numbers of dui arrests able to be produced to pacify public concerns as to the traffic impediments and financial costs of such initiated law enforcement activity, I assert that far more states would be enacting sobriety checkpoints as Hamilton County continues to do unabated by fiscal concerns.
Despite adverse fiscal considerations and adverse traffic obstacles needlessly created by the use of sobriety checkpoints, Hamilton County plods onward in the use of such roadblocks despite public accountability as to their true cost effectiveness.
At the present time Hamilton County motorists must be vigilant in understanding that the continued use of sobriety checkpoints in this county and across the state of Indiana is a realty that must be contended with. As a result, certain informative checkpoint resources have been made available to assist Hamilton County motorists in becoming aware of potential sobriety checkpoints so as to plan public activities accordingly.
So long as local politicians can suggest that they are tough on crime by the use of these alleged dui fighting tools, public ignorance as to the true lack of financial justification for this continued practice will inevitably be permitted to continue.
Within counties not as adversely effected by economic downturns such as Hamilton County, the use of such checkpoints has become not so much a crime fighting tool to procure dui arrests as it is a symbol of potential deterrence against the practice of drunk driving.
If politicians choose to feel it is not against their political self interest to allocate untold taxpayer dollars and law enforcement resources to the cause of producing these relatively ineffective public checkpoint displays meant to put fear into the general public, the practice will continue.
As such, the continued use of these taxpayer funded productions must be recognized not necessarily for their effectiveness in getting actual drunk drivers of the road, but getting the notion of a drunk driving arrest within the heads of all who enjoy alcohol responsibly outside of the home.