Holiday Weekend Sobriety Checkpoints in Jonesboro

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The Jonesboro Police Department will work with area law enforcement agencies as part of the Statewide DWI Enforcement Mobilization this Friday, July 5.

Click here to read the Sobriety Checkpoint Policy Guidelines that the Jonesboro Police Department follows during this and all sobriety checkpoints.

The Breath Alcohol Testing (B.A.T.) Mobile, a completely self-contained vehicle used for conducting sobriety checkpoints throughout the state, will be deployed in and around Jonesboro Friday evening. The BAT Mobile program is based at the Black River Technical College’s Law Enforcement Training Academy in Pocahontas, Arkansas, and is available for use by agencies throughout the State free of charge.

The BAT Mobile Program is grant-funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The grant covers all of the costs for the use of the BAT Mobile Program including maintenance, fuel, lodging, salary, and training.

The BAT Mobile itself is a 44 feet International truck that was built in Arkansas by Taylor Made Ambulance in Newport. The BAT Mobile has four different cameras on board that are constantly recording the entirety of the sobriety checkpoint. There are two interior cameras to record officers performing Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST’s) on drivers that are suspected of drug and/or alcohol impairment. There is a light tower approximately 30 feet in height atop the BAT Mobile. This light tower is equipped with powerful flood lights to illuminate the exterior of the vehicle for the safety of the drivers entering the sobriety checkpoint, as well as for the safety of the police officers working the checkpoint. Additionally, there is a camera on the light tower for exterior surveillance of the sobriety checkpoint. The last camera system on the vehicle is a Hawkeye HGN camera system that records the involuntary jerking of the eyes of an impaired person. This involuntary jerking is known as Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) and is the most accurate of the three (3) standardized field sobriety tests.

The BAT Mobile also features a unique capability not found on other mobile sobriety checkpoint vehicles in the United States. Police officers who have received specialized drug recognition expert (DRE) training can field test drivers suspected of prescription or illegal drug impairment inside the BAT Mobile. A DRE evaluation is very thorough and often conducted at nearby sheriff’s or police departments; however, with the BAT Mobile’s large size and DRE capability, DRE examinations can be conducted at the scene of a sobriety checkpoint in a timely manner and convenient location. As part of a DRE examination, eye examinations are conducted. A drug-impaired driver’s pupils are tested for their reaction to light. In order to do this, a dark room is needed. Aboard the BAT Mobile, there is a room that can be brought down to near total darkness and can be utilized for any DRE eye evaluations that may be needed during the sobriety checkpoint. There are also other items on board that can be used during DRE evaluations, such as urine specimen cups, blood pressure cuffs, pulse meters, and thermometers.

The BAT Mobile Program is an extremely valuable asset to the State of Arkansas and continues to grow with each passing day. This is the only vehicle of this capability that has been located in the United States, and it puts Arkansas at the forefront in the very serious battle against impaired driving. There is no way to know exactly how many lives have been saved to this point as a result of the BAT Mobile Program, but the people of Arkansas can know that the BAT Mobile Program is constantly being updated and reevaluated in an effort to provide the very best service possible to the citizens and communities of the state of Arkansas.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has outlined the following guidelines for sobriety checkpoints:

(1) roadblocks do not require a warrant;
(2) a statewide program was not a prerequisite to instituting a constitutional roadblock;
(3) a plan embodying explicit, neutral limitation on the conduct of the individual officers is required; and,
(4) a person may be removed from the roadblock for further inquiry, regardless of where they fall in the preset, numerical rotation of cars being checked.