For years, Charles Krauthammer has been an eloquent advocate of expanded civic responsibilityand mutual obligation. But suddenly, when it comes to sitting in a traffic line for 30 seconds and engaging in a brief conversation with a police officer checking for the obvious signs of inebriation, he leaps back to the side of the self-absorbed individualists and starts whining about his rights {op-ed, June 22}.

All too often, Americans want their government to solve community problems, while insisting with equal fervor that no solution must burden them as individuals. This "my rights over all" crowd finds checkpoints, however brief and nondiscriminatory, a brutal intrusion upon their individual rights. Fortunately, the Supreme Court has chosen to side with those Americans -- the majority, according to pollsters -- who see cooperation with checkpoints as part of their responsibility as driver-citizens, and one they are glad to bear to help free highways from the mayhem of drunken drivers.

This does not, as Mr. Krauthammer suggests, represent a lazy way out of the drunken driving problem. It illustrates a paradox he missed: some enhancements of freedom can be purchased only with the coin of mutual obligation.

ROGER CONNER Executive Director American Alliance for Rights and Responsibilities Washington

In answer to Betty King and her objection to sobriety checkpoints {letter, June 22}:

Betty King obviously knows little of the drunken driving problem. Sobriety checkpoints are effective, not because of the number of drunken drivers who are caught and arrested, but because they deter many drunken drivers from taking the wheel at all. About 10 percent of our drivers are guilty of driving while intoxicated. Why, as Betty King suggests, should the other 90 percent have to put up with ignition interlock devices, which, by the way, can be bypassed by a sober passenger? Those devices are appropriate only for convicted drunken drivers.

A possibility of being caught followed by swift and sure punishment has proved to be the best defense against drunken drivers, and sobriety checkpoints one of the most effective tools.

PATTY HERZOG Virginia State Chairman Mothers Against Drunk Driving Fairfax