Roadside checkpoints have pretty much become a standard holiday tradition in America, along with fireworks and egg nog.
This year cops in several states have announced intentions to set up sobriety checkpoints where holiday revelers will be forced to surrender their constitutional rights in the name of safety.
In many states, such as Texas, drivers may even be subject to mandatory blood draws if an officer merely suspects them of driving under the influence.
The Supreme Court says “checkpoint stops are ‘seizures’ within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment,” meaning they technically violate that constitutional right. However, the court has ruled that the “state’s interest in preventing drunken driving” outweighs Fourth Amendment protections.
While most will agree reasonable measures should be taken to prevent DUI crashes and fatalities, FBI analysis has shown that saturation patrols, a concentration of officers patrolling a specific area, in contrast to checkpoints are generally more effective at catching impaired drivers.
Yet numerous law enforcement agencies prefer wanton violations of the Fourth Amendment to roving patrols.
With the nanny and police states ready to roll out in full force, we’ve compiled a list of states known to be conducting roadside sobriety, DUI or “safety” checkpoints this New Year holiday.
Cops in Alabama say they will run checkpoints, but are not disclosing where they might be set up.
Alabama Law Enforcement Agency “Troopers say drivers should be prepared for safety checkpoints throughout the state” during the holiday, reports NBC affiliate WSFA.
Palm Desert police are planning a DUI/driver’s license checkpoint running from Wednesday night through Thursday morning.
The California Highway Patrol should also be expected to set up checkpoints in other parts of the state. A testament to their effectiveness, or lack thereof, a checkpoint in Red Bluff last year screened 492 drivers, but police only arrested one driver for DUI, according to the Corning Observer.
Law enforcement authorities will be setting up checkpoints across Denver’s metro area, where a first time DUI offense can land one in jail for as long as five days.
After touting the success of their Christmastime law enforcement initiative, nicknamed Operation S.A.N.T.A., which secured 15 DUI arrests, Connecticut state police say they will extend their efforts to cover New Year’s, NECN reports.
“In addition, sobriety checkpoints will also be set up in an effort to deter anyone from the consumption of alcohol and driving as we approach and celebrate the New Year,” the notorious Lt. J. Paul Vance said in a press release.
Forsyth County sheriff’s deputies announced their “checkpoints will be targeting DUIs and speeders,” the Forsyth News reports.
Cops in the tropical paradise of Honolulu had a checkpoint set up on Monday night that “is just one of the many checkpoints police will be having this holiday week,” according to Fox Affiliate KHON.
Police in Illinois got a jump on holiday checkpoints with “roadside safety checks” last week, where they stopped drivers to make sure they were wearing seat belts, and checked license and registration, as well as surveyed for drunks.
State police manning a checkpoint in Winnebago County over the weekend arrested five drivers suspected of DUI.
“Kentucky State Police will be out utilizing directed patrols as well as safety checkpoints throughout the New Year’s Eve season,” says Kentucky State Police trooper Jonathan Biven.
The Park City Daily News provides a detailed list of several “safety checkpoint” locations where Kentucky State Police will be set up in at least eight different counties.
Maryland State Police spokesperson, Maj. Greg Shipley, told the Frederick News Post, “there will be sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols throughout the state,” though he said there would likely not be any in Frederick County.
“But just because we’re not out there having a sobriety checkpoint that doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all,” Lt. Bruce DeGrange added.
While not specifically disclosing precise set up locations, the Mississippi Highway Patrol is warning holiday drivers that they may encounter checkpoints.
“There will be increased patrolmen on the road, as well as checkpoints,” Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesman Ben Seibert told the Picayune Item.
Last year St. Louis passed a policy making the city a “no refusal zone” that lawmakers say is “paying off.”
“That means if a person suspected of drunk driving refuses to take a breathalyzer, police can seek a search warrant for a blood test,” reports Fox 2 Now.
Drivers traversing Union County’s Route 22 can expect to encounter a sobriety checkpoint, but quizzically it won’t take effect until Friday night, the day after most people celebrate New Year’s festivities.
Santa Fe County sheriff’s deputies claim their checkpoints “are helping to change society’s attitude about drinking and driving.”
They’ll be running saturation patrols as well as checkpoints throughout the holiday season.
Officials in New York’s Erie County, bordering Lake Erie, donated a trailer to state police that will reportedly “be used to move various materials to sobriety checkpoints throughout the area,” according to WGRZ, but the locations of said checkpoints were not disclosed.
The Public Information Officer for the Alamance County Sheriff says he’s “Not aware of any checkpoints in the county, just stepped-up patrols,” but as one keen commenter noted, “…it would be kind of silly to say where the checkpoints would be, now, wouldn’t it?”
An article out of Oklahoma reads: “DUI checkpoints being set up all over Green Country.”
“This year into next, OHP [Oklahoma Highway Patrol], Tulsa County, Tulsa Police, Rogers County, Wagoner County, Catoosa will all be setting up DUI checkpoints,” reports KRMG. “OHP arrested 13 people for DUI last New Year’s Eve alone.”
Employing the term “safety checkpoints,” the South Carolina Highway Patrol says, “There will be checkpoints throughout the day starting during the middle of the day, not just at night time.”
Police say there will be two checkpoints in South Carolina’s Tri-County region, made up of Berkeley, Dorchester and Orangeburg counties, that will operate everyday through Sunday January 4th.
Tennessee drivers in eight different counties – Roane, McMinn, Rutherford, Shelby, Washington, Cumberland, Maury and Hardin – should be prepared to surrender their rights at “no refusal” checkpoints, where police can forcibly extract blood samples without a person’s consent, securing evidence which would aid a future conviction.
State troopers will also be conducting bar and tavern checks.
Police in the Lone Star state capitol, as well as other parts of the state, are warning that the New Year’s holiday grants them “no refusal” powers.
“The initiative means police will be able to get a blood sample from anyone who refuses to give a breath or blood specimen” after acquiring a warrant from a judge, KXAN News reports.
While not specifically mentioned, Austin Police have been known to conduct roadside sobriety tests, though they have been ruled “illegal under Texas’ interpretation of the federal Constitution,” according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
In Vermont, “Law enforcement around the state will conduct sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols,” according to WCAX.com.
Vermont State Police have been engaged in “special holiday enforcement” since December 10.
West Virginia police freed up overtime hours to conduct what they termed a “holiday blitz” which began earlier this month on December 10th
“You’ll see the number of checkpoints –and patrols — across the Mountain State increase this month,” reported WTOV9, implying that there were already a number of checkpoints throughout the state.
States that have ruled checkpoints unconstitutional
Though many states have legalized “no refusal” policies, not every state has decided to waive their citizens’ constitutional rights.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, legislators in the following states have moved to uphold their constituents’ Fourth Amendment protections:
Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.