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Low-Staffing Sobriety Checkpoints

NCJ Number
Date Published
24 pages
After defining sobriety checkpoints and presenting guidelines for coordinating them, this manual outlines an operational plan for conducting low-staffing sobriety checkpoints.
Sobriety checkpoints involve stopping vehicles or a specific sequence of vehicles at a predetermined fixed location in order to raise the public's perception of the risk of being detected and arrested for driving while impaired (DWI), as well as to detect drivers who are impaired by alcohol and/or other drugs. Low-staffing sobriety checkpoints accomplish these tasks, but with fewer personnel than is typical for managing sobriety checkpoints. The general guidelines presented for coordinating sobriety checkpoints pertain to their role as part of an ongoing program to deter impaired driving, the necessity of having judicial support, their place under existing policy and guidelines, site selection, the use of warning devices, displaying a visible police authority, and the logistics of chemical testing at sobriety checkpoints. Other general guidelines address contingency planning, detection and investigation techniques, operational briefings, communication strategy, data collection and evaluation, public reaction, and evaluation of sobriety checkpoint operations. The operational plan for conducting low-staffing sobriety checkpoints focuses on the responsibilities of the personnel. The checkpoint supervisor coordinates all checkpoint activities in accordance with the department's operational plan. This includes briefing, staffing operations, debriefing/evaluation, and overall supervision. Checkpoint screening officers are responsible for stopping and screening vehicle operators in order to determine whether a driver is impaired or has committed other violations. Jurisdictions may consider using volunteers to perform ancillary duties required under the operational plan. Their responsibilities may include counting vehicles, completing non-law enforcement paperwork, and monitoring and maintaining checkpoint traffic control devices. 6 references and appended operational diagrams and supplementary information on warning devices, operations plan, work-force responsibilities, and reports