Investigation Reveals How Chicago Police DUI Checkpoints Overwhelmingly Target Minorities


New reports reveal that DUI checkpoints ran by the Chicago Police Department predominantly target black and Latino neighborhoods.

ct-dui-checkpoints-chicago-met-20150507-002A new investigative exposé published in the Chicago Tribune shows that 84 percent of the roadside sobriety checks in Chicago were conducted in black and brown communities from February 2010 to June 2014.

However, out of the 152 checkpoints in the city, only 6 were set up in majority-white districts, despite the fact that these districts had high rates of alcohol-related crashes from 2010 to 2012. In other words, just 4 percent of the checkpoints were scheduled to take place in police districts where mostly white residents live.

The police data also show that other white communities were hardly ever checked, even if they had significant DUI rates. For instance, Jefferson Park, where about one-fifth of the police force live with their families, has one of the city’s highest DUI accident and fatality rates. However, a CPD DUI checkpoint has not been set up in the neighborhood in over five years. In comparison, Austin on the West Side has had 10 roadside checks scheduled in five years:

“The district, which is predominantly white, also has one of the highest rates of drunken driving accidents and fatalities, but police haven’t set up a sobriety checkpoint there in more than five years.”

“Seven miles due south, Chicago police have announced 10 roadside checks over the same period in the Austin district, a hardscrabble stretch along the city’s West Side that is predominantly black and where there were four times fewer alcohol-related crashes than in Jefferson Park.”

Although the Grand Crossing, a predominantly black on the South Side, is one of two police districts that has had the most DUI checkpoints, statistics show the community has the fewest drunk driving accidents in the city.

According to the Chicagoist, the checkpoints are stationed on street corners around the city on Friday and Saturday nights to catch intoxicated drivers. Sometimes police target neighborhoods with a lot of nightlife, like Lakeview and Wicker Park.

However, they frequently post up in quieter neighborhoods dominated by urban populations. Rather than catching drivers under the influence, the police use the checkpoints to issue driving tickets for minor violations. Officers also use the stops as an opportunity to run background checks on drivers.