Getting from place-to-place on California freeways and highways comes with an expectation and anticipation of obstacles and hazards. When most drivers think of road hazards, many things come to mind: Potholes, junk, accidents, heavy traffic, construction, etc. Although it may be accidental, we have all experienced an occasional bending of traffic laws. You look down at the speedometer and realize that you are going 10 miles-an-hour over the posted speed limit. A quick look around for red lights in your mirror tells you that you are safe – for a while.

            Although potholes and junk can damage your car, and the annoying inconvenience of construction and heavy traffic can slow progress, the potential for serious problems can come from the irresponsibility and criminal actions of a driver under the influence of an intoxicating substance – commonly referred to as DUI. Despite common thinking, alcohol is not the only substance that can debilitate a driver. There are common medications can cause a driver to lose the ability to drive safely. Items such as cold medicine, sleep aids containing diphenhydramine, antidepressants, and muscle relaxers can mimic symptoms of intoxication.

            Accidents caused by DUI drivers have prompted public pressure on police to detect and remove DUI drivers from roadways. The California Highway Patrol reports that nationwide almost 23,000 people are killed each year by DUI related accidents. Section 2814.2 of the California Vehicle Code requires drivers, when requested, to submit to a DUI inspection at a designated checkpoint. Section 23612 of the California Vehicle Code explains that when each driver receives a driver’s license, there is an implied consent to allow chemical testing by law enforcement.

            The DUI Checkpoint system has been extremely successful with reducing DUI arrests and DUI related accidents. The California Office of Traffic Safety (COTS) reports that as of September 30, 2012, California’s roadway death toll stands at its lowest level since 1944. COTS also reports that the use of DUI Checkpoints increase public’s attention toward the risks of DUI, and combined with local news coverage of DUI enforcement efforts, DUI Checkpoints can help reduce DUI related accidents.

            COTS also reports that, “Repeat DUI offenders continue to present a hazard to the public. According to the Century Council’s Hardcore Drunk Driving Judicial Guide, repeat DUI offenders who drive with a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or above and have more than one drunken driving arrest are considered hardcore drunk drivers. These drivers are responsible for 68 percent of alcohol-related traffic fatalities and are 380 times more likely to be involved in a crash. Drivers with BAC levels in excess of .15 are only one percent of all drivers on weekend nights; however, they are involved in nearly 50 percent of all fatal crashes during that time.” Because of this COTS will continue to increase funding for DUI Checkpoints throughout California.

            A DUI Checkpoint may seem inconvenient, but the alternative is far greater than a temporary delay in your holiday travels. Plan ahead! Become aware of checkpoint locations. Designate a sober driver to get you where you need to go safely. Call a cab, call a friend, or find a hotel room to sleep it off. A DUI violation can cost you thousands and the loss of your personal freedoms. Be aware and be safe.

There is a public service that assists people with identifying and locating DUI checkpoints. MrCheckpoint is a public service helping police departments reach hundreds of thousands of people on a given weekend by publicizing checkpoints as a drunk driving deterrence. The MrCheckpoint service also educates drivers of the dangers and high cost of DUI violations. To get free DUI Checkpoint text alerts in real-time from the public service MrCheckpoint, text NODUI to 51515.