Is Social Media Outsmarting the Sobriety Checkpoint System?

Sobriety checkpoints are no secret in many states. On the weekends, law enforcement officers can often be found checking drivers for glassy eyes, the smell of alcohol, and ultimately violations of DWI laws. However, in at least one state, law enforcement officers are compelled to drastically shift their checkpoint strategy. In St. Louis, Missouri, law enforcement officers are stepping up checkpoint activity in response to overwhelming checkpoint awareness created by social media. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, law enforcement officers in Jefferson County have determined that social media outlets, such as Twitter and Facebook, have enabled drivers to alert each other as to checkpoint locations. The awareness has made checkpoints less effective, resulting in fewer DWI charges.

The ease of avoiding sobriety checkpoints has changed the way Jefferson County officers catch drunk drivers. Law enforcement officers in Jefferson County used to set up checkpoints in one location, and would stay at that location for several hours. However, drivers can now easily notify each other of the whereabouts of each checkpoint, necessitating officers to establish checkpoints for shorter lengths of time, in various locations, and at unexpected hours of the day. Officers also utilize social media to determine when to terminate a sobriety checkpoint by scanning social media channels, and obtaining updates from family and others as to what is being posted online.

Despite the increase of social media activity, Jefferson County may be unique in its new approach. Law enforcement officers in other counties throughout the state, as well as in Illinois, see no need to change their approach to checkpoints as a response to social media. Officers in those localities often set up on busy roads, and see no noticeable decline in checkpoint activity.

Sobriety checkpoint laws vary from state to state, and are not legal throughout the whole United States. While the United States Supreme Court has upheld state sobriety checkpoints as consistent with the Fourth Amendment’s restriction against unreasonable search and seizure, not every state utilizes them. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association notes that sobriety checkpoints are legal in 38 states, but are banned in 12 others under state law, the state constitution or the state’s interpretation of the United States Constitution.

In New York, sobriety checkpoints are a legal way for law enforcement officers to deter violations of DUI laws, and are upheld as being consistent with the Constitution. If you have been stopped at DUI checkpoint in New York and have been charged with violating a DUI law, an experienced attorney may be able to help you. An attorney can help you understand the charges against you and the consequences, and can determine legal strategies to help you navigate your case. Contact Nave DWI Defense Attorneys at 877-435-7394 for a free and confidential case evaluation.

Disclaimer: The exclusive purpose of this article is educational and it is not intended as either legal advice or a general solution to any specific legal problem. Corporate offices for Nave DWI Defense Attorneys are located at 269 W. Jefferson St.; Syracuse, New York 13202; Telephone No.: (315) 473-0899. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Attorney Advertising.

2015-07-06T20:23:58+00:00