With over 17,000 fatalities and approximately half a million individuals sustaining injuries from alcohol-related crashes each year, DWI/DUI is among the most commonly committed crimes on U.S. roads.
In an effort to tackle the problem DWI or sobriety checkpoints are commonplace across the country as many state lawmakers believe that they are an effective way to cut the extremely worrying number of deaths and serious injuries.
The roadblocks are set-up on public highways to stop vehicles randomly in an attempt to catch drivers who show signs of impairment or intoxication and usually take place in locations and during times of the week when incidents of drunk driving are most likely to occur.
All drivers who are stopped must submit to a field sobriety test or a breath sample.
And it would appear that they work as according to the Centers for Disease Control, alcohol-related accidents have gone down by almost 20% in states that use them.
So can these checkpoints be used in Minnesota?
Well in a word, no.
At present, Minnesota is one of only 12 states in the entire country that does not permit sobriety checkpoints, with the remaining 11 states being Washington, Texas, Montana, Michigan, Rhode Island, Wyoming, Alaska, Iowa, Idaho, Oregon, and Wisconsin.
Although the Supreme Court ruled in 1990 that these checkpoints are not unconstitutional, the ruling is still argued about passionately.
Minnesota is one of five states that ban DUI checkpoints because they are in violation of their state constitution. Michigan, Washington, Rhode Island, and Oregon also have similar rulings.
Many question the validity of this practice due to the invasive nature of these checkpoints – seeing them as illegal under various interpretations.
And much of the debate surrounds the longstanding discussion over the constitutionality in terms of a violation of the Fourth Amendment, since individuals are usually questioned, searched, and subjected to testing without probable cause or reasonable suspicion.
But the success of the roadside checks has led many groups to believe that is time for the Minnesota lawmakers to have a change of heart.
One such group is Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), who feel these checkpoints should be made legal, with the organization believing that such a tool will prevent more drunk-driving fatalities from occurring.
However, those who are still uncomfortable with the idea of roadblocks becoming legal in Minnesota will point to the fact that alternative policing methods are still proving effective.
Despite the lack of checkpoints in the state of Minnesota the total number of DWI arrests declined considerably from 28,418 in 2012 to 23,843 in 2013.