The Sheriff’s Office is restricted by an Indiana Supreme Court ruling that prevents a Sobriety Checkpoint from being set up without sufficient basis. The location of a Sobriety Checkpoint must be based on empirical evidence and relevant statistics.
In 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that, if conducted properly, Sobriety Checkpoints do not constitute an illegal search and seizure. In 2002, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled in the case of State v. Gerschoffer, finding Sobriety Checkpoints are constitutional when properly conducted. The Supreme Court set out a series of restrictions which provided Indiana law enforcement with a clear guide as to how Sobriety Checkpoints must be conducted.
While there are certainly rural areas of the county where drunk driving does occur; crime and crash statistics for those areas do not typically provide sufficient justification to allow for a Sobriety Checkpoint. For this reason, Sobriety Checkpoints are typically conducted within the city limits where higher concentrations of hit and run crashes are found. The Sheriff’s Office often conducts Sobriety Checkpoints jointly with the Evansville Police Department and the Indiana State Police. Federal grant dollars are used to pay deputies overtime to work the checkpoints, so no deputies are being “taken” or “pulled” from their normal patrol duties.
Because the Sheriff’s Office primarily patrols those areas of the county outside the city limits, our deputies routinely make drunk driving arrests in rural areas. If you are having an issue with intoxicated motorists outside the city limits or suspect one of our local drinking establishments is “over serving” patrons, send us a TIP (which can be submitted anonymously).