Friday, June 19, 2009

Revisiting DUI checkpoints

Police Car Lights by Scott Davidson used under a Creative Commons License

This blog has previously looked at DUI checkpoints, primarily noting that they seem to catch a lot of activities other than DUI. But a recent Daily Bulletin article looked at their efficiency regarding catching DUI people. For example, Sarah Longwell stated:

Cops are pulled off the street and stand in one spot in hopes the drunken drivers come to them....

Only the dumbest drunken driver would get caught up in the checkpoints. The majority of drunken drivers simply go around them.

For the record, Sarah Longwell is managing director of an organization called the American Beverage Institute. I'm not sure why the lobby would take a formal stand on this issue, but for the record ABI advocates alternate deterrence methods, such as roving patrols and education.

Others are saying that roving patrols are more efficient than stationary checkpoints.

[W]ith checkpoints costing about $10,000 and roving patrols a mere $300, there are advocates who question the effectiveness of DUI checkpoints.

In 2008, Ontario police officers made 85 DUI arrests and 57 other arrests while working state-funded checkpoints through federal money and DUI saturation patrols, according to a police news release. The department arrested 777 drunken drivers citywide last year, an increase from 744 DUI arrests in 2007.

But perhaps the effectiveness of DUI checkpoints can't be quantified by the arrest records.

Sgt. Michael Olivieri with the Pomona Police Traffic Services said he believes both programs, checkpoints and patrols, are necessary for safe streets....

"We look at (checkpoints) as a great education opportunity," he said. "If 3,000 people pass through a checkpoint, then we are able to make contact with those 3,000 people."

"Checkpoints show the public we're out there."

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