The police arrest people for impaired driving after car crashes or when they notice someone doing something that seems unsafe in traffic. Targeted enforcement helps catch those who choose to drive after drinking.
People get arrested for technical infractions because they fail a breath test after a traffic crash, and they get arrested for drunk driving when they didn’t even cause property damage if their obviously impaired driving draws the attention of police officers on traffic patrol.
However, there are some people who get arrested in Iowa because of mass enforcement efforts instead of individual traffic stops or crashes. Sobriety checkpoints or drunk driving roadblocks involve multiple police officers temporarily closing down a road and briefly screening every driver who comes through the area. Your chances of encountering a sobriety checkpoint increase around major holidays.
Drunk driving crashes increase around holidays, so enforcement does too
For thousands of families in Iowa, Christmas, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving or Independence Day are no longer joyful holidays but rather the tragic anniversary of when someone they love ended up killed or permanently hurt by a drunk driver. There is a strong association between increased drunk driving crashes and major holidays.
Police departments may try to deter drunk driving by announcing checkpoints on holidays and during the weekends before or after major holidays. Although they can’t stop people from drinking during holiday celebrations or driving home after one, they can screen hundreds of people and arrest those who fair field sobriety or roadside chemical tests.
A checkpoint does not guarantee a conviction
Many things can go wrong during the process of conducting a checkpoint. Police officers can make mistakes regarding the paperwork they must have in place to lawfully conduct a checkpoint. They might fail to calibrate their devices or allow an officer who has a personal history with a specific driver to be the one who talks to that person.
Issues ranging from personal bias and misconduct to questions of testing accuracy could provide a basis for a criminal defense strategy after someone gets arrested at a sobriety checkpoint. Knowing your rights when you face drunk driving charges or other criminal allegations can help you increase your chances of successfully fighting back against those charges.