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All Press Releases for December 21, 2013 »
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Drivers should be prepared for DUI checkpoints this holiday season

Law enforcement will be conducting increased patrols and DUI checkpoints over the holiday season.
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    December 21, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- As people get excited for the upcoming holiday season and prepare to attend parties and celebrations, or just to spend quality time with family and friends, local law enforcement is gearing up to address the annual concern of holiday drunk driving. There are many people arrested for drunk driving in Arizona each year; The Century Council reported 35,496 DUI arrests in the state in 2011. Many of these arrests occurred during the holiday season, which is known throughout most of the country as the most dangerous time of year for drinking and driving accidents.

To address this problem, many states conduct sobriety checkpoints throughout the year, especially during the holidays. Arizona state law allows law enforcement to set up checkpoints at least once a month, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. These checkpoints are not only meant to protect people from drunk driving accidents, but aim to prevent people from being arrested by discouraging them from getting behind the wheel drunk in the first place.

When a DUI checkpoint becomes illegal

Police state that they're not out to arrest people when they're conducting checkpoints; they're just trying to prevent drunk driving. However, when certain procedures aren't followed, a DUI checkpoint can become unlawful. For example, a checkpoint in Texas last year was determined to be illegal, after squad car video showed that more than the planned every three cars were being pulled over, reported 10 News. In order to prevent racial profiling and false arrests, police need to follow strict checkpoint laws.

According to MADD, DUI checkpoints are up to 24 percent effective in reducing drunk driving accidents and arrests. Police must adhere to the following regulations while conducting a checkpoint:
- Authorities must have a reason to suspect a driver is impaired before ordering a blood or breath test.
- Vehicles must be stopped according to a pre-determined plan, such as every three or four cars.
- Checkpoints are usually publicized in advance and signs are posted, in order to deter people from drinking and driving in the first place.

Usually a stop at a DUI checkpoint lasts no more than a few minutes. The publicity surrounding a holiday checkpoint is meant to remind people of the dangers of drinking and driving, rather than to increase arrests.

However, arrests do routinely occur at checkpoints throughout Arizona. AZCentral reported 4,371 DUI arrests between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day last year in the state. The average blood alcohol content was 0.15 percent, and drunk driving arrests are increasing, making it highly likely that police will be extra vigilant for suspected drunk drivers this holiday season.

People who are arrested for drunk driving have the right to be treated fairly in court. They also have the right to contest the charges if they feel they have been wrongfully arrested for a DUI checkpoint violation or any other reason. It's important to contact an experienced drunk driving defense attorney, in order to discuss the penalties and other complicated issues resulting from a DUI.

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