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Popularity of DUI checkpoints continues, 4 nabbed in Wichita

A drunk driving checkpoint in Wichita, Kansas, led to the arrest of four people during the sweep on June 28. The checkpoint was set up through the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office, according to official reports, and more than 350 drivers were stopped during the four-hour operation. Authorities said that family members of victims who have died in drunk driving crashes were on hand, observing and supporting officers as they improve public awareness about the potential consequences of drunk driving charges.

Officers at the checkpoints were prepared to perform field sobriety and Breathalyzer tests during the traffic stops. The police said they were scanning drivers to determine whether they smelled of alcohol, had slurred speech or showed other signs of obvious intoxication. Authorities say that the checkpoints are critical tools in preventing drunk driving throughout the area.

Although these checkpoints have been heralded as excellent methods for identifying those with high blood alcohol content levels, they have not been without their share of controversy. Foremost among those concerns: The fact that officers may not have probable cause to evaluate the drivers' sobriety. National campaigns that include DUI traffic stops have often been questioned because they are seen as blatant violations of drivers' rights, even if they are operating under the influence.

Even those accused of DUI charges deserve to have their legal rights protected during traffic stops. DUI checkpoints may be effective, but they are not always fair. Local officials say that it is rare for them to administer a checkpoint where they do not find at least one intoxicated driver. Those alleged drunk drivers deserve the full protection of the law within the criminal defense system, no matter the nature of the charges they are facing.

Source: KAKE, "UPDATE: 4 arrests made at DUI checkpoint," June 30, 2014

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