A group in Washington, the Washington Impaired Driving work Group, has come out 80 percent in support of sobriety checkpoints. The 33-member group was created in 2012 at the behest of the Legislature in reaction to a repeat drunken driver who killed two people and injured two others.

It is not known what type of field sobriety test would be used at these checkpoints if they are enacted, but roadsides tests are often subjective and inaccurate, say those who oppose such checkpoints. They go on to say that sobriety checkpoints are not cost effective and that they do not have as much deterrent effect as is popularly assumed. It could also be noted that the results of only certain field sobriety tests are admissible in court.

The best deterrent to drunk driving is not traffic stops, says the ACLU legislative director. He says that saturation patrols are already being used and are a better solution. During these patrols, officers specifically target drivers who appear to be under the influence of alcohol. Other solutions that have been proposed are increased penalties, changing what constitutes a felony and banning repeat offenders from purchasing alcohol, though the last of those was dismissed for its unrealistic approach.

Checkpoints may not be constitutional since they target every vehicle. If police officers stop a car because the driver is driving erratically, that is individualized suspicion, which is constitutional under Washington legal statutes. However, stopping every car does not fall under these criteria. It is possible to challenge a DUI in Seattle or in Washington in general, especially if one was the victim of an improper field sobriety test.

Source: KCPQ, “Would you favor DUI checkpoints in Washington?“, James Lynch , December 05, 2013