Ready to celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Well, get ready for DUI checkpoints and increased patrols for drunken drivers nationwide.
For the first time in five years, Cinco de Mayo falls on a weekend. That's why many law enforcement agencies are setting up DUI checkpoints beginning Friday night, or even earlier.
But stationary checkpoints aren't the only tool police will be using to make sure drivers are sober this weekend.
In San Francisco, for example, police will hop on motorcycles for mobile Cinco de Mayo DUI patrols around the city, the online SFAppeal reports.
"We can ride right up to the driver's window and check for any signs of alcohol or drug impairment," a San Francisco traffic cop told SFAppeal. "There are a lot of motorcycles on the road, and you would be amazed at how many people do not notice us until they hear the sirens."
Mobile patrols may also be used this weekend in the 11 states where DUI checkpoints are not conducted because of legal limitations.
But in states where DUI checkpoints are common, courts have generally upheld such checkpoints, if they're conducted properly. That typically means:
- There must be a neutral formula to choose which vehicles will be stopped -- for example, every third vehicle that approaches the checkpoint.
- The checkpoint should be limited in duration, with primary consideration for public safety.
- There should be advance notice of the checkpoint, to make it less intrusive.
DUI checkpoints reduce drunken-driving crashes by about 20%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Also, most DUI checkpoints -- Cinco de Mayo checkpoints included -- are conducted at night. That makes sense, as the rate of drunken-driving fatalities is about four times higher at night than during the day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Further, more than 30% of fatal crashes on weekends involve drunken drivers.
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