In the early 1990s, nearly half of all traffic fatalities in
Many concerns over implementing sobriety checkpoints are about resources and cost, so another goal of Checkpoint
Checkpoints were conducted on weekends in all 95 counties of
The Checkpoint Tennessee program was in place from April 1, 1994, to March 31, 1995. The checkpoints were implemented by the Tennessee Highway Patrol in coordination with local law enforcement agencies. Three checkpoints were set up in at least four counties throughout the state every weekend. “Weekend blitzes” were conducted on five weekends out of the year, with checkpoints conducted in all 95 counties of
At the checkpoints, all motorists were stopped to investigate for suspicion of impairment. If no evidence of impairment was found, they were given a pamphlet on driving under the influence and let go. If they were suspected of impairment, they were given further testing. Officers used several different types of equipment at checkpoints to detect driver impairment, including passive alcohol sensors in flashlights, video cameras, special lighting, cones, reflective vests, generators, signs, and floodlights. Passive alcohol sensors are flashlights with sensors to detect alcohol on the breath as the officer checks the eyes of the suspected drunken driver, and were an integral part of impairment testing at the checkpoints. All of these tools were used to gather evidence of impairment and determine probable cause to arrest impaired drivers. Standardized field sobriety tests were also used to detect impaired drivers.
The GHSO did research and planning for the program, while the Tennessee Highway Patrol executed the checkpoints with cooperation from local law enforcement agencies. The checkpoints were staffed using existing police resources; at least six troopers and a supervisor were required to staff each checkpoint.
It was believed that since mass media outlets have such a strong influence on society, advertising the program through media outlets would increase awareness of the program and spread the message against impaired driving. The idea was that if the program was widely advertised, people will be deterred from driving while impaired.
Drunk Driving Fatal Crashes in Tennessee
Lacey, Jones, and Smith (1999) observed a 20.4 percent reduction over the projected number of drunk-driving fatal crashes that would have occurred with no intervention. They estimated that this prevented approximately nine fatal crashes per month. The reductions were sustained for at least 21 months after the Checkpoint Tennessee program ended in March 1995.
Drunk Driving Fatal Crashes in Comparison States
The model showed a slight insignificant increase in drunk-driving fatal crashes in the five surrounding states of Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
Nighttime Single-Vehicle Injury Crashes in Tennessee
There was a statistically significant reduction of 5.5 percent in nighttime single-vehicle injury crashes after the start of the Checkpoint Tennessee program.
Public Opinion and Awareness of the Program
Nine out of 10 survey respondents showed support for the program, and awareness of the program over the course of the year increased as the program gained publicity. Eighty-five percent of respondents of the mail comment cards had positive comments about the program.