Enforcement of drunk-driving laws is the responsibility of local police, county sheriffs, and the state police or highway patrol. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prevents police from stopping cars at random and requiring drivers to take breath tests. Police must have probable cause to believe that drunk driving or some other offense (including traffic offenses) has been, is, or is about to be committed. Once a driver has been legitimately stopped, the police officer can order the driver to submit to a field sobriety test, which may consist of walking heel-to-toe, counting backwards, or performing other tasks that reveal intoxication. If the driver's performance on the test gives the officer probable cause to believe that the driver is intoxicated, the officer will arrest the driver. At the station, drivers will be told that they are required by the implied-consent law to submit to a breath test; refusal to cooperate will lead to license revocation.

In the 1980s, as states and localities searched for more effective anti-drunk driving strategies, some police departments mounted roadblocks at which every car (or every nth car) was briefly stopped and the driver briefly observed and sometimes questioned. If the officer detected alcohol, the driver was pulled over and required to submit to a breath test. Since these drunk-driving roadblocks were not based upon probable cause, they were challenged. In 1990, however, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld drunk-driving roadblocks under its administrative search doctrine (Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz, 110 S. Ct. 2481). The Court ruled that as long as the roadblocks are situated in a fixed location, overseen by high-level officials, and operated non-discriminatorily, they do not violate the Fourth Amendment.

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