Monday, August 27, 2012

COMMENTARY: DUI checkpoints invade rights, are an inefficient solution to the problem of drunk-driving


Drunk-driving is a worthy problem to attack for law enforcement and society in general.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were nearly 300,000 "incidents of drunk driving" each day in the United States during the 2010 calendar year. In total in 2010, there were over 112 million reported cases of drunk driving.

In Kansas, drunk driving will be a central focus during the Labor Day Weekend. DUI checkpoints (or sobriety checks) will be set up across the Kansas City metro.

The Sunflower State also had a new law passed in 2012 that makes it a crime for someone to refuse a breathalyzer test.

When it comes to solving the problem of enforcing the law, are checkpoints really the best option?

The answer if you look at the statistics is "no."

Checkpoints do not perform nearly as well as roving patrols - police units that keep an eye on the streets and highways with the idea of finding suspicious drivers.
  • A handful of studies have confirmed that checkpoints are not as efficient as simple roving patrols are. In 2009, officers in the great state of California stopped nearly 1.8 million drivers at DUI checkpoints. Just over 5,000 individuals were arrested, meaning there was a success rate of around .45 percent. That's not 45 percent - it's .45 percent. In the same state during the same calendar year, roving patrols had a 14.7 percent rate in finding drunk drivers, as over 5,800 drunk drivers were arrested after roving patrols checked out nearly 40,000 vehicles.
  • In 2007, the Commonwealth of Virginia had a .33 percent checkpoint success rate. When it came to the roving patrol units, there was an 8.1 percent success rate in 2007.
DUI checkpoints are not only an inefficient way to crackdown on drunks, but are unfair to the 98-99 percent of drivers out there who are not morons.

Why should the sober drivers have to submit to a breathalyzer test? Non-drinkers could be committing an illegal act simply because they don't want their rights trampled. Shouldn't the drunk driving law just be enforced without that little breathalyzer part?

The word "freedom" is greatly over-used in today's political world.

But it's not with DUI checkpoints. DUI checkpoints infringe on the non-drunks.

I respect and 100 percent agree with cracking down on drunk drivers. When I was three years old, I was involved in a car accident that was caused by a drunk driver.

Drunk drivers, especially repeating offenders, deserve strict punishment and there's no one who will carry the flag higher on that issue than me.

Checkpoints, however, are not the best way to go if the idea is to crack down on a larger percentage of them.

Isn't a better idea to assign police patrols to an area that's heavily populated with bars? Isn't it better for the rest of us if the police investigated and looked for suspicious drivers?

Driving in the late hours, you don't need a master's degree to spot a drunk driver, especially if you're in a one-lane road. If you see a driver swerve, stop suddenly or do anything else weird while driving, it's safe to say he or she is probably drunk.

Police would at least have a good reason to pull the driver over in that instance and not cause headaches for those who follow the law.

It's important to nab all of the drunk drivers out there.

However, the rights of the law-abiding drivers should be protected too.