Impaired driving and alcohol-related crashes constitute two of the Nation’s leading health problems. These events result in more deaths each year than do total homicides.1 The impact is particularly severe among young people age 15 to 24, where impaired driving is the leading cause of death. Clearly, impaired driving and alcohol-related crashes constitute a major threat to the safety and well being of the public. The costs resulting from alcohol-related crashes should be recognized and weighed against the costs and inconveniences associated with efforts to reduce them.

These guidelines have been designed to provide law enforcement agencies with a uniform and successful method to plan, operate, and evaluate low-staffing sobriety checkpoints. When implemented in conjunction with departmental policy and constraints imposed by State or local courts, low-staffing sobriety checkpoints provide an effective tool to combat the impaired driving problem.

Any agency considering the use of low-staffing sobriety checkpoints should integrate them with a continuing, systematic and aggressive enforcement program, including vigorous media support, and public information and education. The purpose of the program is to maximize the deterrent effect and increase the perception of “risk of apprehension” of motorists who operate vehicles while impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. There is convincing evidence that the use of checkpoints has a marked, dramatic effect on reducing alcohol-related crashes in a community.2

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wishes to express its appreciation to Kenneth Copeland, Highway Safety Specialist, NHTSA; J.D. Meadows, West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Office; Jerry D. Stemler, Fairfax County Police Department; and Dick Ashton, International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), Jefferson County, Colorado Sheriffs Office.

1 Department of Justice Uniform Crime Report (UCR)
2“Sobriety Checkpoints for DWI Enforcement -A Review of Current Research,” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1987