The Hamilton County Traffic Safety Partnership will be setting up sobriety checkpoints around Hamilton County to aggressively deter, detect, and arrest those drivers who make the decision to drive impaired. Sobriety checkpoints have proven successful in both raising awareness of impaired driving and reducing the likelihood of a person driving after they have been drinking.
A sobriety checkpoint will be conducted on the night of March 15th and the early hours of March 16th.
At a sobriety checkpoint, law enforcement officers evaluate drivers for signs of alcohol or drug impairment at a specified point along the roadway, often depending upon the support of local property owners for the use of appropriate land. Checkpoint sites are selected based upon analysis of available crash and impaired driving arrest data and a consideration of officer safety.
Vehicles are stopped in a specific sequence, such as every other vehicle, every third vehicle, every fourth vehicle or by stopping three, four or five cars in succession and allowing other traffic to proceed while checking the stopped vehicles. The planned sequence in which vehicles are stopped depends on the number of officers available to staff the checkpoint, traffic congestion and other safety concerns.
Upon making contact with the driver, the officer advises them that they’ve been stopped at a sobriety checkpoint and asks for the driver’s license and the vehicle’s registration. If, in the course of the contact, the officer detects that alcohol may be involved and that the driver may be impaired or if some other issue arises, then the vehicle is directed into a pull-off area for further investigation. Further investigation may involve the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. On the other hand, if all looks right during the initial contact, the driver is often on his or her way in less than two minutes.
The Hamilton County Traffic Safety Partnership is a consortium of law enforcement agencies in Hamilton County comprised of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department, Fishers Police Department, Carmel Police Department, Noblesville Police Department and the Westfield Police Department with the assistance of the Indiana State Police.
Impaired driving is one of our nation’s most frequently committed violent crimes. Just in Indiana in 2012, alcohol-related traffic crashes killed 158 people (up from 140 in 2011), accounting for approximately twenty percent of all fatal crashes, and injured another 2,112 people.
About 1000 people are convicted of an impaired driving offense annually in Hamilton County alone, and nearly 200 of those are repeat offenders. In 2012 in Hamilton County, for example, the State filed 1004 charges of operating while intoxicated. Of these, 158 drivers had prior convictions for operating while intoxicated within the last five years.