Engaging young people in advocacy, education & prevention
Creating social change around alcohol, drugs, and more

Sobriety Checkpoints and Impaired Driving

August 25, 2017 1:00 pm Published by Comments Off on Sobriety Checkpoints and Impaired Driving

Impaired driving is operating a vehicle under the influence of any mind altering substance – not just alcohol.

A sobriety checkpoint is a predetermined location at which law enforcement officers stop vehicles to check whether the driver is impaired. They either stop every vehicle or stop vehicles at some regular interval, such as every third or tenth vehicle. The purpose of checkpoints is to deter driving after drinking by increasing the perceived risk of arrest.” – CDC

In researching DUI checkpoints, I found pushback. There are websites that exist solely to argue the perceived “illegality” of them, stating that checkpoints are unconstitutional and a waste of resources – when any level of research will tell you that DUI checkpoints are enormously effective, reducing “alcohol-related fatal, injury, and property damage crashes each by about 20 percent. Similarly, a meta-analysis found that checkpoints reduce alcohol-related crashes by 17 percent, and all crashes by 10 to 15 percent.”

Last month, one Thousand Oaks checkpoint on one night net 3 DUI arrests. That is not insignificant. Many think that driving under the influence is a phenomena fallen to the wayside with the rise of companies like Uber but that is highly debated.


Below are Ventura County stats on impaired driving from Ventura County Behavioral Health, EvalCorp, and the California Highway Patrol.

Impaired Driving by the Numbers

  1. 44% Drove from Bars, Clubs or Restaurants – The most commonly reported places of last drink prior to DUI arrest were a bar, club or restaurant (44%) or a private residence (43%).
  2. 6 Drinks – The average number of drinks consumed on the day of DUI arrest.
  3. 10 miles Driven – The average number of miles driven from the place of last drink before being stopped by a law enforcement officer.
  4. 1 in 3 had Passengers – One-third (32%) of all participants reported that they had at least one passenger in their car when they were stopped and arrested for a DUI.
  5. 1 in 10 Used Drugs Other than Alcohol – Eleven percent of all participants reported that they had used other drugs besides alcohol on the day of their arrest. Among the respondents who reported using other drugs, besides alcohol, on the day of their DUI arrest, respondents most frequently reported using prescription drugs (45%) or marijuana (43%) (Source: POLD, 2014).
  6. 1 in 4 had Twice the Legal BAC – One-quarter (24%) of participants indicated that their blood alcohol content (BAC) level was at or above twice the legal limit (? 0.16) (Source: POLD, 2014).
  7. 1 in 4 Fatal Crashes Involve Impaired Driving – Impaired driving from alcohol and other drug use still accounts for approximately 24% of fatal crashes even though alcohol and drug crashes only make up 8% of the total vehicle crashes in Ventura County (Source: SWITRS, prepared and maintained by CHP, 2014).
  8. 241 Victims – In 2014, nine individuals lost their lives to impaired drivers and an additional 232 were injured by impaired drivers in Ventura County (Source: SWITRS, prepared and maintained by CHP, 2014).
  9. 3,261 Arrests – In 2013, there were 3,261 driving under the influence arrests in Ventura County (Source: California DMV, 2013). Alcohol use was the most commonly reported reason for arrest (94%) but use of illegal drugs or prescription drugs made up 4% of DUI arrests, and an additional 2% were arrested for impaired driving due to both alcohol and drug use (Source: POLD, 2014).
  10. 46% of Residents Do Not Designate a Driver – From a Countywide Impaired Driving Survey in 2015 of Ventura County residents, among respondents who stated they party/go out with friends, 46% indicated they do not “always” have a designated driver (DD). In fact, 12% indicated “never” having a DD when out consuming alcohol.

Impaired driving is a huge problem. Shouldn’t we be taking every preventative measure in this field?