A House committee has voted in favor of a bill that would effectively ban sobriety checkpoints in the Granite State. The measure will be taken up by the full House for a vote sometime in the next few weeks.
The New Hampshire Legislature last considered a bill to ban sobriety checkpoints in 2012, but the House killed the bill.
Current policy on sobriety checkpoints
Under current New Hampshire law, law enforcement agencies wishing to hold a sobriety checkpoint need to get approval from a Superior Court, and have to issue a public notice in advance of the checkpoint. However, the notice doesn’t have to include the exact time or exact location of the checkpoint.
Checkpoints save lives
Supporters of the checkpoints say they are a deterrent to drunken driving. They say the checkpoints are a more effective tool at finding suspected drunk drivers than officers on patrol.
Others note that according to the Centers for Disease Control, about one in three traffic deaths—about 33 percent—in the United States involve a drunk driver. In New Hampshire, it’s just a little more than 20 percent. Detering drunk drivers can therefore help save lives.
Checkpoints are ineffective and overreaching
Opponents say the checkpoints are an intrusive overreach by law enforcement. Despite the court order that essentially serves as a warrant, opponents also say the checkpoints give rise to unlawful search and seizure.
A review by the Concord Monitor newspaper in June also found that since 2006, fewer than 1 percent of drivers stopped at checkpoints have been charged with driving while intoxicated. And of 61 people arrested in 2016 at checkpoints, only 29 were charged with DUI, the review found.
What do you think? Should sobriety checkpoints be banned? Let us know in the comments section below.