The National Motorists Association salutes the beginning of the summer driving season with its annual list of the states with the best and worst motor vehicle laws for summer travelers. The news is not good for Maryland, which earned a number three spot on the worst list. Only New Jersey and Ohio have more driving laws and vehicle-related enforcement policies that are more slanted toward filling state coffers.
Some of the behaviors that give Maryland a bad name with summer travelers include policies that have been highly touted by public officials as part of their on-going (and some would argue politically motivated) fight against drunk driving.
Roadside sobriety checkpoints are a common sight during Memorial Day weekend, the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekend. Public officials roll out plans for these sobriety roadblocks with great fanfare. From the officials’ point of view, a sobriety checkpoint represents the easiest way to prove to taxpayers that something is being done about DUI in Maryland.
After a weekend sobriety checkpoint finishes stopping and searching Maryland drivers without cause and without a warrant, a roadblock produces a number of arrests. These arrests will be cited as evidence that sobriety checkpoints are effective against DUI. However, the effectiveness of DUI checkpoints has been contested for almost as long as the roadblocks have been in use.
In the landmark Michigan Supreme Court Case decision that briefly ruled the practice of roadblocks unconstitutional in that state, evidence presented before the court lead the justices to conclude that sobriety roadblocks have little to no benefit in combating Maryland DUI. However, the state justices were soon overruled by the highest court in the land.
Although acknowledging that a sobriety checkpoint violates the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure, a 1990 ruling by the United States Supreme Court reversed the state Supreme Court decision and upheld the constitutionality of the sobriety checkpoints.
Until this ruling is overturned, motorists can and will be stopped at random during the height of the summer driving season. As a result, public officials will claim another season of success based on DUI arrests without considering the implications of sacrificing constitutional protection for a dubious sense of safety.
The skilled Maryland drunk driving defense lawyers at Alpert Schreyer have decades of experience defending clients charged with DUI, including clients ensnared by DUI roadblocks. They understand the limitations and weaknesses of many DUI cases and use their advanced knowledge of DUI law and extensive experience to launch an aggressive defense on behalf of their clients. For a free case evaluation call 866-444-6363 today.