The ENDUI Prevention team will continue their proactive approach and will be conducting a DUI checkpoint in Ardmore on Friday March 23rd as part of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol’s proactive stance on intoxicated driving. The checkpoint will coincide with regular county-wide patrols aimed at impaired drivers.
Impaired driving is one of Oklahoma’s deadliest crimes, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. In 2015, OHP reported 170 deceased on Oklahoma roadways in collisions which involved an impaired operator with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher.
The goal of the ENDUI program is to deter drivers from making the choice to get behind the wheel or operate a motorcycle while intoxicated, said OHP Trooper Nathan Mackey. Driving impaired or riding with someone impaired is not worth the risk, Mackey said in a statement about the program. Not only are lives at stake, but also the trauma and financial costs incurred from a crash or arrest for driving while impaired can be significant. Violators face jail time, the loss or suspension of driver licenses, increased insurance rates, and dozens of other fees, said Mackey.
Local law enforcement agencies have been invited to participate in the checkpoint and ENDUI activities alongside OHP Troopers, Mackey said. “I appreciate and support ENDUI’s commitment to a more proactive approach to reduce the number of people choosing to drive under the influence,” said District Attorney Craig Ladd. “We take such offenses very seriously.”
Per Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals, checkpoints like the one planned for Friday in the Ardmore area must be announced to the public and clearly identified by signage. Guidelines for law enforcement regarding sobriety checkpoints in Oklahoma began with the 1994 case Geopfert v. State ex rel. Dept. of Public Safety, 884 P.2d 1218, where the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals upheld the DUI conviction of a driver apprehended at one such checkpoint. The court cited a 1990 case in Michigan where citizens argued that checkpoints violated the Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures, but the Supreme Court ultimately ruled that states have a substantial interest in stopping drunk driving and that checkpoints are a rational way to accomplish this. In the Oklahoma case, the state explained that the checkpoint in question took place on New Year’s Eve, was noted in the local paper, and had signs warning motorists posted before the roadblock.
In 2002, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued an updated guidebook geared toward law enforcement, detailing how to plan and publicize impaired driving enforcement efforts. “Advance publicity is necessary to reduce the intrusiveness of the checkpoint and increase its deterrent effect,” said United States Supreme Court Underchief Justice Rehnquist after the ruling was made.
In addition to the state’s adherence to guidelines for conducting the sobriety checkpoints, law enforcement on a state and local level are offered specialized training to help them identify potentially intoxicated vehicle operators.
Mackey said all OHP Troopers in the Ardmore area have completed the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement Training or ARIDE Training and some have also completed Drug Recognition Experts or DRE certification as well. Deputy Chief said two of Ardmore Police Department’s approximately 52 sworn officers have completed the DRE certification. Some have also completed the ARIDE training, however an exact count was not available prior to press time.
“Basic academy training provides standardized field sobriety training or SFST, which is mainly geared toward alcohol,” Mackey said. “It touches on drugs.”
The ARIDE training is a two day course which Mackey said he provides for area law enforcement. That course breaks down drug impairment and how to identify what a person may be under the influence of based on their behaviors and other indicators.
The DRE certification is an intensive six month program which Mackey called “very challenging.” That program consists of two weeks of classroom training and multiple evaluations over several months on scientific and medical evidence on seven drug categories.
Mackey said it is vital that officers receive this training. “We are seeing more drugs due to the opioid crisis,” Mackey said. He also said officers are looking for signs of impairment from street drugs like marijuana, over-prescribed opiates and also other drugs like antidepressants that may affect a person’s ability to drive safely. “Remember to read medication warning labels and never drive after taking a medication or substance that can cause impairment,” Mackey said. Mackey said people sometimes don’t realize they are impaired and should not be driving.
Mackey said OHP wants all Oklahomans to have a safe and enjoyable weekend — and to use a designated driver or call for a ride if they plan to drink or use other mind-altering substances.