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Police waste resources with sobriety checkpoints

A recent source reports that sobriety checkpoints, which sift the roads of drivers that have had too much to drink, can cost more than $10,000 to set up. Despite hefty costs, they are not very efficient. In fact, sources say that these stops may actually distract officers from finding risky drivers. Many South Carolina motorists know that authorities will do whatever they can to prevent motorists from driving under the influence (DUI). However, at what expense should enforcement use such unsuccessful measures?

National statistics shed light on the issue. In 2008, over one million cars went through 1,469 sobriety checkpoints in California. Of the motorists examined, police arrested only 0.3 percent. Additionally, Pennsylvania police arrested less than 1 percent of stopped vehicles one year. From October 2010 to September 2011, West Virginia state police organized 258 stops, and of the 130,000 cars evaluated, authorities made only 189 arrests. This was only 3.2 percent of the 5,900 total DUI arrests made statewide.

With these statistics in mind, Utah and Connecticut are in the process of trying to pass legislation, which would eliminate sobriety checkpoints.

The problem with checkpoints is that they are so easy to avoid. For example, the roadblocks are usually visible from a distance. One can easily take an alternative road and avoid them altogether. Furthermore, people can warn each other of the various checkpoint locations. It takes one phone call or text message to give someone a warning.

Traditional patrolling methods only cost around $300. Also, statistics show that patrolling is extremely efficient. Therefore, maybe it is time to evaluate whether checkpoints are worth the effort.

Source: TheNewsStar.com, "Checkpoints not effective," Feb. 18, 2012

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