Throughout the year, police departments across the U.S. use initiatives that increase awareness and enforcement of the laws against driving while intoxicated. Some enforcement methods are illegal in Texas, even though they are legal in other parts of the country. For instance, Texas does not allow sobriety checkpoints. Another term you may hear police departments use is “saturation patrols.” The goal of saturation patrols is the same as sobriety checkpoints, but police implement saturation patrols in a way that gets around the legal controversy of checkpoints.
Defining Saturation Patrols
A saturation patrol is an increased presence of police officers at targeted times and places for the purpose of discouraging DWI incidents and catching alleged drunk drivers. For instance, a police department may have more officers patrolling high traffic areas during holiday weekends because there are typically more drunk drivers on the road during a special occasion when people are attending parties and celebrating. Announcing the time of a saturation patrol in advance and the number of resulting arrests afterward is part of the strategy in hopes that it will discourage people from drinking and driving.
How Are Saturation Patrols Different from DWI Checkpoints?
Texas courts have ruled that sobriety checkpoints violate a driver’s constitutional protection against unwarranted stops. A police officer must have reasonable suspicion that a driver has violated the law before they can stop the driver. All drivers going through a sobriety checkpoint are stopped, regardless of whether they have done anything to raise suspicion....