DUI sobriety checkpoints, also known as roadblocks, are one of those things that sound good until you think it through. No one wants drunk drivers on the road. But no one wants texters or people eating lunch on the road, either, which are even more dangerous. In order to catch the latter two, it would be necessary to set up video cameras either alongside the road or inside cars. Every year, several states that prohibit DUI checkpoints consider passing legislation to permit them. These laws are usually championed by Democrats.
Motorists engage in secondary behavior during approximately half of their time on the road. Hands-free mobile phone conversations are legal all around the country, but slow reaction times by a significant 26.5 percent, according to a study from the UK. Eating slows reaction times by up to 44 percent. Drivers who text slow their reaction times by 37.4 percent. In contrast, drivers at the legal limit for alcohol in the UK, which is .08 BAC, only demonstrated a 12.5 percent increase in reaction time. The National Highway Administration finds this disparity to be even greater, surmising that driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.
This becomes even more troublesome when it is taken into consideration that some states don’t require a minimum BAC level for a DUI; the violation level is “impaired to the slightest degree.” Someone who blows a .03 BAC level may be perfectly capable of driving safely, but the laws as drafted in many states do not distinguish. If caught at a DUI checkpoint, even though the driver has not made a single driving error, the driver can likely expect to be fully prosecuted with little chance of escaping the draconian consequences of a DUI conviction.
There are state laws that prohibit “distracted driving,” but it is difficult for law enforcement officers to see people engaging in texting, eating or similar activities, especially if they have tinted windows or there is poor weather. By the time they are stopped at a checkpoint, they can easily hide the offending behavior. The penalties for distracted driving are merely a slap on the wrist that won’t follow you around; most states have penalties ranging from $30 to $200.