National DUI ranking organization Dragger estimates that Huntsville has the most DUI related arrests than any other city in Alabama.
The 2010 survey showed that Huntsville DUI arrest rate far exceeded other Alabama cities with a total of 989 in that year alone. Compare that to Auburn, rated second in Alabama for DUIs, which only had 473 arrests.
Although Huntsville had the most arrests for DUI offenses, that does not necessarily mean that Huntsville has more people driving under the influence. The rate of DUI charges more accurately reports the ability of Huntsville police to charge people with driving under the influence.
The conviction rate also does not completely portray the number of persons actually drinking and driving. Although most DUI arrests in Huntsville result in a conviction some argue that this is just because of the court’s inability to properly process the sheer number of DUI cases in the county. Many of the cases result in a plea agreement, which require a guilty plea or lesser admission of guilt although defendant’s may have defenses that would make them not guilty.
Many of the arrests result from the Huntsville police department’s use of checkpoints in the city. Although, these check points result in inconvenience and slight intrusion for motorists, the Supreme Court has ruled that police checkpoints guard against a legitimate threat of drunk driving. As a result the State has a legitimate interest in utilizing the checkpoints.
However, the Supreme Court has also ruled that police should abide by guidelines in carrying out sobriety checkpoints. Police departments like Hunstville follow the National Highway Safety Transportation Authority’s guidelines, which make the checkpoints more predictable to citizens. Huntsville follows these guidelines and announces possible locations for checkpoints ahead of time.