In an effort to crack down on drunken drivers in Washington, Gov. Christine Gregoire has proposed legislation that would allow law enforcement to set up sobriety checkpoints.
Washington is one of 11 states that prohibit spot checks to nab drunken drivers.
The proposal would require jurisdictions to first apply for warrants. Applications would have to list specific locations with a high number of crashes related to driving under the influence. Cities, counties or the state patrol also would have to advertise checkpoint locations, dates and times.
Expected to be taken up in the House by Rep. Pat Lantz, D-Gig Harbor, the legislation would require judges to approve warrants if the plan “advances the jurisdiction’s interest in reducing impaired driving, taking into account potential arrests under the program and the program’s deterrent effect.”
Gregoire said the enforcement tool is vital to safety on the state’s roads.
“Let’s hope these checkpoints will keep would-be drunk drivers from even getting behind the wheel and take those who make the bad decision to drink and drive off the road,” Gregoire said in a written statement.
Opponents say the plan would violate the state’s protections against “suspicionless” searches.
All vehicles, or a designated sequence – such as every fourth vehicle – would be required to stop at checkpoints. Failure to stop could result in $5,000 fines and one year in prison.
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– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor