The holiday season is a busy time for police departments and highway patrol. Because of a significant increase in drunk driving around Christmas and New Year's Eve, police use extra patrols and DUI checkpoints to catch as many drunk drivers as possible. This week a national advocacy group has publicly urged police departments to stop using DUI checkpoints.
The American Beverage Institute is a group which represents the restaurant trade. Their mission is to promote dining in restaurants and to protect the right of individuals to drink responsibly in public. The managing director of the ABI made a statement this week calling for the end of DUI checkpoints. She said that they are ineffective at catching drunk drivers and they allow police to harass responsible adults who are not over the limit.
Statistically speaking, the DUI checkpoints are indeed ineffective. On average, the checkpoints only result in 3 arrests for every 1,000 cars that get stopped. The ABI representative added that they also waste taxpayer money, tie up police department resources, and slow down traffic flow.
She stressed that checkpoints violate the rights of responsible individuals and allow police to stop them without probable cause. Instead, she advocates for increased roving patrols which are 10 times more effective than checkpoints. This allows police to surprise drunk drivers who could easily avoid roads with checkpoints.
A police department representative agreed that checkpoints are less likely to catch drunk drivers, but he argued that they are still important. They are an effective way to discourage drunk driving and to remind the public to be safe. He also added that enforcement was most effective when it included both checkpoints and roving patrols.
For now both methods will continue to be used, especially during this New Year's weekend. Partygoers should make arrangements ahead of time to designate a non-drinking driver. With so many police on the roads this weekend even moderate drinkers cannot afford to risk a DUI.
Source: NJ.com, "Beverage trade group calls for end to police DUI checkpoints," Ben Horowitz, 29 December 2010