You may have heard about this story in Pennsylvania from whatever website you get your "weird news" from. Logan Shaulis of Somerset allegedly set up a fake DUI checkpoint around 4am on the last Saturday of May. He reportedly parked his car across a state highway and stopped a motorist. Police later arrived and charged Shaulis with impersonating a public servant, unlawful restraint, and (ironically) drunk driving, because Shaulis was apparently intoxicated at the time of his arrest. His first court appearance is set for Tuesday.
This story is certainly funny in a ludicrous, man-bites-dog sort of way. But it also illustrates something else: the arbitrariness and silliness of DUI checkpoints.
If you're thinking that the Pennsylvania incident could never happen in Washington, you're right. That's because Washington is one of a dozen states where DUI checkpoints are prohibited.
Why? Because the efficacy of these types of roadblocks is questionable at best. For starters, a 2013 study showed that saturation patrols (like those that occur in Washington), which put more officers on the road in a particular area, are more effective in catching drunk drivers in terms of DUI arrests per hour. In contrast, DUI checkpoints station numerous officers in a single spot to focus on a single legal infraction. Plus, some attorneys believe that arbitrarily stopping people to see if they're sober is a violation of the Fourth Amendment and the Washington State Constituion because it constitutes an illegal search.
Let's hope that lawmakers in Olympia, who seem to perpetually try to strengthen DUI penalties and related driving laws, continue to refrain from allowing DUI checkpoints in our state.