WASHINGTON – Today the American Beverage Institute (ABI) urged law enforcement agencies to forego sobriety checkpoints this Thanksgiving weekend. Roadblocks have been proven ineffective and fail to target the real drunk driving problem.
The ABI advocates in favor of roving patrols – during which police patrol the streets and highways looking for erratic drivers – because they are more effective than checkpoints.
“Sobriety checkpoints are expensive, ineffective at catching drunk drivers, and target moderate drinkers instead of the root cause of today’s drunk driving problem—hard core alcohol abusers,” said ABI Managing Director Sarah Longwell.
Statistics show that the average drunk driver in a fatal car crash was driving at a blood alcohol level more than twice the legal limit. Rather than targeting this dangerous population, sobriety checkpoints inconvenience all driving adults.
That’s why checkpoints are consistently ineffective at catching drunk drivers.
For example, in 2008, over a million vehicles went through 1,469 California checkpoints. Police arrested just one-third of 1 percent of those motorists for drunk driving. Other states – including Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia – have had similar results.
In contrast, records from State Supreme Court cases in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire show that roving patrols catch up to 10 times more drunk drivers than checkpoints. Roving patrols are also cheaper, typically running about $300 (a checkpoint can cost over $10,000).Moreover, roving patrols can catch speeders, distracted and aggressive drivers, in addition to drunks.
“Because they are highly visible by design and publicized in advance, roadblocks are all too easily avoided by the chronic alcohol abusers who comprise the core of today's drunk driving problem,” Longwell continued. “That leaves adults who enjoyed a beer or a glass of wine with Thanksgiving dinner to be harassed at checkpoints.”
She concluded, “Police should put resources into roving patrols instead of checkpoints.”