Sobriety checkpoint and open container laws in the United States: Associations with reported drinking-driving

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12 Scopus citations


Objective: The objective of this study was to assess how 2 types of drinking-driving laws—permitting sobriety checkpoints and prohibiting open containers of alcohol in motor vehicles—are associated with drinking-driving and how enforcement efforts may affect these associations. Methods: We obtained 2010 data on state-level drinking-driving laws and individual-level self-reported drinking-driving from archival sources (Alcohol Policy Information System, NHTSA, and Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System). We measured enforcement of the laws via a 2009 survey of state patrol agencies. We computed multilevel regression models (separate models for each type of law) that first examined how having the state law predicted drinking-driving, controlling for various state- and individual-level covariates; we then added the corresponding enforcement measure as another potential predictor. Results: We found that states with a sobriety checkpoint law, compared with those without a law, had 18.2% lower drinking-driving; states that conducted sobriety checks at least monthly (vs. not conducting checks) had 40.6% lower drinking-driving (the state law variable was not significant when enforcement was added). We found no significant association between having an open container law and drinking-driving, but states that conducted open container enforcement, regardless of having a law, had 17.6% less drinking-driving. Conclusion: Our results suggest that having a sobriety checkpoint law and conducting checkpoints as well as enforcement of open containers laws may be effective strategies for addressing drinking-driving.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)782-787
Number of pages6
JournalTraffic Injury Prevention
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 16 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Alcohol
  • enforcement
  • impaired driving
  • open container
  • sobriety checkpoints


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