Although the state of Washington has not used sobriety checkpoints since the late 1980s, some state lawmakers have recently started a campaign to bring them back.
Sobriety checkpoints, which make use of road blocks in order to catch drunk drivers, were found to be unconstitutional by the Washington State Supreme Court, but concerns over the number of drunk-driving related fatalities has these lawmakers calling for reconsideration of the issue.
Though lawmakers have attempted previously to bring sobriety checkpoints back to Washington in recent years, those efforts have failed. The newest effort is House Bill 1912, which proposes to create a statewide administrative sobriety checkpoint program. The bill, according to a spokesman from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, contains restrictions on what law enforcement can do, including receiving court authorization and using crash data to determine where to place checkpoints.
The American Civil Liberties Union has expressed criticism of the bill, saying that Washington law has already determined that sobriety checkpoints are a violation of the people's privacy. The group also disputes statistics provided by the bill's supporters, which supposedly point to the effectiveness of sobriety checkpoints. According to the ACLU, other statistics show that sobriety checkpoints are ineffective, and constitute a waste of public resources.
Washington is one of 12 states that do not currently allow sobriety checkpoints.
While the prospects for the bill do not seem very promising, it isn't clear how much support will gain among state lawmakers. Everybody agrees that it is good to get drunk drivers off the road, but the issue pertains to the best way to do it.
Source: king5.com, "New push to reinstate state sobriety checkpoints," Natalie Swaby, January 12, 2012.
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