The American Beverage Institute, a restaurant trade association that supports responsible on-premise alcohol consumption, is asking states to stop using sobriety checkpoints as a way to stop drunk drivers. Citing a low number of DWI arrests at checkpoints compared with roving police patrols, the association is urging states to stop wasting taxpayers’ money. North Carolina’s Booze It & Lose It campaign is one of many programs around the country that rely on both checkpoints and roving patrols to intercept drunk drivers.
The association says that the average three arrests out of 1,000 vehicles checked proves checkpoints are an ineffective tool and a waste of resources. Roving patrols are far more successful, in large part because they stick to city streets rather than the major highways targeted by checkpoints. Drunk drivers are more likely to take city streets and less-used roads, either out of safety concerns or simply to avoid checkpoints. Roving patrols are 10 times more effective than checkpoints at nabbing drunk drivers, according to the association.
Law enforcement representatives argue that the key to a successful safety program is the combination of checkpoints and patrols. The association is missing the point of a program like Booze It & Lose It. It’s about removing drunk drivers from the roads, but it’s also about deterrence and education. Checkpoints are more effective when it comes to deterrence and education, because more people are stopped.
Also, drunk driving isn’t the only target of these programs. Checkpoints may log fewer DWIs, but they reap occupant restraint violations, criminal violations (including fugitives arrested) and other traffic violations. In week three of the 2010 Holiday Booze It & Lose It campaign (December 13-19), the North Carolina Department of Transportation reported 3,044 DWIs and 31,980 total traffic and criminal violations. The DWI arrests are not broken down by checkpoints and patrols.
The restaurant association may have shot itself in the foot when explaining their opposition to checkpoints. “If people feel like they’re going to get yanked out of their car to stand in the cold and recite the alphabet,” the representative said, “they’re not going to have even one drink.”
Resource: NJ.com “Beverage Trade Group Calls for End to Police DUI Checkpoints” 12/29/10