Definition: Saturation patrols involve law enforcement deploying additional police officers to targeted roadways during select time periods to detect and apprehend impaired drivers.
Executive Summary: The primary focus for officers during these patrols is to find impaired drivers by observing changes in driving behaviors, while also looking out for any traffic violations by motorists. The behaviors most often assessed are: lane deviation, following too closely, reckless or aggressive driving and/or speeding (Greene, 2003). The intention of this heavier police presence is to increase motorists’ perception that they will be arrested if they drive impaired. Saturation patrols take place in all 50 states, and do not present many legal issues beyond those associated with routine traffic stops.
More Detail: Measured in arrests per working hour, these blanket patrols are viewed by some as the most effective method of apprehending impaired drivers (Greene, 2003). Saturation patrols can be as effective, or more effective than sobriety checkpoints in apprehending hardcore alcohol-impaired drivers who often evade checkpoints. Many police departments favor them over sobriety checkpoints for their effectiveness, reduced staffing requirements, and the comparative ease of operating saturation patrols. Adequate publicity is needed though, to reap the deterrence effect more commonly associated with sobriety checkpoints.
Suggested Audience: Enforcement
- Greene, J. January 2003. Battling DUI: A comparative analysis of checkpoints and saturation patrols – driving under the influence. The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin.
- American Bar Association, Judicial Division, National Conference of Specialized Court Judges “Highway to Justice” newsletter article (See attachment A)
- NHTSA – Saturation Patrol and Checkpoint Guide (2002)
- NHTSA – General DUI Deterrence (2005)
- NHTSA – Evaluation of National High-Visibility Campaign (2007)
- The Century Council. DUI Data- Blanket Patrols
- Ross, H.L. 1992. Deterring the Drinking Driver: Legal Policy and Social Control, rev. ed. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, D.C. Health and Co.
- NHTSA – Driver Characteristics and Impairment at Various BACs (2000)
- Stuster, JW and Blowers, PA. 1995. Experimental evaluation of sobriety checkpoint programs. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- NHTSA – A Review of the Literature on the Effects of Low Doses of Alcohol on
- Lacey, JH; Jones, RK; Fell, JC. A comparison of blitz versus continuous statewide checkpoints as a deterrent to impaired driving. Proceedings for the 13th International Conference on Alcohol, Drugs, and Traffic Safety 1995; 2:845-848. Adelaide, Australia: NHMRC Road Accident Research Unit, University of Adelaide.