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Are DUI checkpoints effective?

By queen
Tuesday, January 6th, 2009 at 11:56 am in driving, Freeways, Misc. Transportation, Safety.

DUI checkpoints don’t catch a lot of drunken drivers. For example, a Saturday night checkpoint in Martinez that 592 drivers passed through caught just one, according to police. Law enforcement representatives admitted that this is the case in a recent Medianews article, “DUI checkpoints ineffective, group says.” The American Beverage Institute advocates doing away with the checkpoints, saying it would be more efficient to rely on roving patrols.

That article caught the eye of Beverly McAdams of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, who fired off an e-mail to Medianews in response. According to Mcadams,

“The bottom line is not that law enforcement “catches” a large number of persons driving under the influence, but that the overall effect of the checkpoints save lives.  As Chris Cochran from the Office of Traffic Safety pointed out, ‘Alcohol-related fatalities decline by an average of 15 to 28 percent when  sobriety checkpoints are used in a consistent and regular manner,'” McAdams said in an e-mail. She continued:

“This is consistent with MADD’s mission.  When checkpoints deter individuals from getting drunk in the first place, encourage those who serve alcohol to do so responsibly, and prevent  underage drinking, we are all served.  Even the risk of being caught keeps many drunk drivers off the roadways.

“Consider also the financial burden that drunk driving places on the community.  The cost alone of prosecuting and incarcerating offenders is staggering.  Couple that with the increased cost to the insurance industry.

“So, when the ABI complains that checkpoints often “catch” no drunk drivers and cost taxpayers $10,000, I have to ask how much a couple of lives  are worth when they are saved behind the scenes,” McAdams concluded.

What do you think?

(Photo: Medanews staffer Aric Crabb.)


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