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Evaluation of Checkpoint Tennessee: Tennessee's Statewide Sobriety Checkpoint Program

NCJ Number
John H. Lacey; Ralph K. Jones; Randall G. Smith
Date Published
January 1999
68 pages

This study examined the effectiveness of Tennessee's statewide sobriety checkpoint program (Checkpoint Tennessee) initiated in March 1994.


Under the program, checkpoints were scheduled on each weekend of the year in at least four counties. On five weekends, checkpoints were scheduled for each of the State's 95 counties. The volume of checkpoints increased from about 15 in the year preceding the launching of the programs to nearly 900 in the program year. The program was conducted and evaluated from April 1, 1994 through March 31, 1995, and extended through the end of 1996. Although grant funds were used to support training and equipment, checkpoints were staffed with existing personnel (State troopers). Extensive checkpoint activity continued after the formal program was completed. The launching of the programs was publicized extensively through public service advertising and the media. Every Monday, each of the eight Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) districts was required to submit reports of activity at each checkpoint conducted the previous weekend. These reports were tabulated and presented in a statewide summary report for the purposes of monitoring program implementation and providing input for regular news releases to the media. Reports showed that 882 checkpoints were conducted under the program, well above the 576 specified in the original commitment. Nearly 145,000 vehicles passed through the checkpoints, and over 9,000 persons were detained for further investigation. There were 773 resulting DUI arrests, 347 seat-belt citations, and 465 child restraint citations. In addition, 4 stolen vehicles were recovered, and 35 felony arrests were made for various violations. The dependent variable and measure of effectiveness in the evaluation was drunk-driving fatal crashes, defined as a fatal crash in which one of the involved drivers had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10 percent or higher. The evaluation found that the program resulted in a 20.4 percent-reduction in alcohol-related crashes that extended at least 21 months after conclusion of the formal program. This resulted in a reduction of nine fatal alcohol-related crashes per month in the State. 3 figures, 3 tables, 11 references, and appended supplementary program forms and examples of media publicity