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Low-manpower checkpoints: Can they provide effective DUI enforcement in small communities?

Lacey, John H.; Ferguson, Susan A.; Kelley-Baker, Tara; Rider, Raamses P.
Traffic Injury Prevention (TIP)
September 2006

Objective: Sobriety checkpoints can be effective in reducing alcohol-impaired driving. Checkpoints are underutilized, however, partially because police believe a large number of officers are required. This study evaluated the feasibility and impact of conducting small-scale checkpoints in rural communities.
Methods: Law enforcement agencies in two counties agreed to conduct weekly checkpoints for one year. Two nonadjacent counties did not undertake additional checkpoints. Evaluation included public-awareness surveys and roadside surveys (including blood alcohol concentration [BAC] measurements) of weekend nighttime drivers.
Results: Relative to drivers in the comparison counties, the proportion of drivers in the experimental counties with BACs >0.05% was 70% lower. Drivers surveyed at driver's license offices in the experimental counties after program implementation were more likely to report seeing or passing through a checkpoint and were more aware of publicity on driving under the influence (DUI) enforcement.
Conclusions: Small rural communities can safely and effectively conduct low-staff sobriety checkpoints on a weekly basis. Such programs can be expected to result in large reductions in drivers operating at higher BACs.