The Labor Day efforts of New Hampshire police units to increase sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols looking for signs of possible drunk or impaired driving (DUI) were only part of a much larger movement. A nationwide effort to prevent impaired driving and arrest drivers suspected of violating DUI laws went into effect on Labor Day, but drivers can help themselves travel safely and prevent arrest if they have the right information. To start: what is a “sobriety checkpoint” and how does it differ from a “saturation patrol?”
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), a “sobriety checkpoint” is a stationary location set up on a stretch of roadway. Officers stay at the checkpoint and stop cars, usually in a predetermined sequence. For instance, police may stop every car, or may stop every third car. When a car is stopped, police speak to the driver and look for signs that he or she may be violating laws against impaired driving or other crimes. The specific rules police must follow at a checkpoint are usually set out by state law.
A “saturation patrol,” on the other hand, involves more officers in patrol cars traveling around a chosen area, looking for signs of impaired driving in other cars on the move. At a checkpoint; officers stay put; in a saturation patrol, they usually drive around. Often, multiple law enforcement agencies will team up to conduct a saturation patrol.