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Restaurant group pans DWI checkpoints

Posted December 22, 2008

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— The state Highway Patrol has stepped up its patrols and plans numerous checkpoints during the holiday season to crack down on speeding and drunken driving, but a restaurant industry group questions the effectiveness of the checkpoints.

The American Beverage Institute maintains roving patrols that look for erratic drivers are better than DWI checkpoints at catching repeat offenders.

"They are not an actual safety measure," Sarah Longwell, managing director of the group, said of checkpoints. "They are not actually getting dangerous people off the roads. They are just inconveniencing responsible adults."

A major problem with the checkpoints, she said, is that they are highly visible and are publicized in advance, allowing hard-core drinkers to evade them.

Capt. Everett Clendenin of the Highway Patrol said Booze It & Lose It checkpoints in North Carolina have been very effective at catching drunken drivers and criminals.

In a campaign that ran during the second half of August and through Labor Day weekend, for example, 2,821 drivers were ticketed for DWI and 8,579 charges for criminal offenses were issued. Through the first two weeks of the holiday campaign, troopers have issued 1,705 DWI citations and 5,010 criminal charges.

"We set these up at locations that have demonstrated a history in the past of being effective by removing numerous impaired drivers off the highway," Clendenin said.

In pushing for the Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies to abandon the checkpoints, the American Beverage Institute took aim at Mothers Against Drunk Driving

"The mantra changed from 'don't drive drunk' to 'don't drink and drive,' and in that, they were targeting people who do drink moderately and responsibly," Longwell said of MADD. "Those are not the people who are out on the highways causing injuries and fatalities."

Craig Lloyd, MADD's executive director in North Carolina, said data shows people remember when they've seen a checkpoint for seven to eight years, which forces people to think about how they'll get home safely.

"We are very surprised to hear that (anti-checkpoint argument) because checkpoints are actually one of our most effective tools," Lloyd said. "It is very highly effective at deterring people that know that the checkpoints (are there)."


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  • nccopper Dec 23, 2008

    GS20‑16.3A. Checking stations and roadblocks.It is legal under NC Law. So until such time as it is NOT legal, KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK, one drunk off our roadways is worth far more than 5 minutes of inconvience ! The lives these checkpoints save, maybe your own one day.

  • NC is my home Dec 23, 2008

    Interesting--I've never had trouble at a checkpoint stop. Maybe that's because I don't drink!

    If proponets of alcohol, could see the effects to someone who's been hit by a drunk driver, they'd change their view. Too many people have been murdered or mamed on our highways because people just don't care.

    If we viewed drinking the same way as smoking (which doesn't kill innocent victims like alcohol), and shun it in public; we'd get rid of a lot of pain & suffering, health costs, etc. But the leaches who make a living by the sale of the legal drug alcohol, have control over the media.

  • leo-nc Dec 23, 2008

    "Thats called entrapment and will not hold up in court. I also like to have my drinks, but you also have to know when to get that DD. Its called being responcible."----

    That's not even close to entrapment. Entrapment is where a law enforcement officer does something to get you to break the law. In other words, they do something to get YOU to do something you normally wouldn't do.

    So no, that's not entrapment. It's not anything close to entrapment and an officer sitting outside a bar is not encouraging someone to do something that they normally wouldn't. If anything, they are DISCOURAGING such behavior by being there. If someone is still stupid enough to leave and is over the limit, then they deserve jail time for drinking and driving.

  • lilreno is in the wind Dec 23, 2008

    ...set these up outside of bar areas and bust them as they leave the bars.

    Thats called entrapment and will not hold up in court. I also like to have my drinks, but you also have to know when to get that DD. Its called being responcible.

  • Val36 Dec 22, 2008

    Checkpoints are just another way of law enforcement letting you know that you are actually guilty into proven innocent in the USA.

  • WRALSUCKS Dec 22, 2008

    "Besides, officers should be looking for erractic or impaired drivers all the time. Right?"

    Right, instead of harassing everyone, in the assumption that one has been drinking. (And I don't drink a drop)

  • Boogalooboy Dec 22, 2008

    Who cares what the institute thinks...set these up outside of bar areas and bust them as they leave the bars....lose revenue, too bad too sad...I go out at least once a month to partake, but I get a dd or a cab.... if you can't find one or afford a cab stay home...

  • 1UNC Dec 22, 2008

    The fact that there are going to be checkpoints is advertised. Not the location of the checkpoint. Knowing that the checkpoints will be out there, hopefully will keep a person from driving after drinking. Alcohol effects people differantly. It impairs your judgement. So you really never really know if you are of to drive. Driving while impaired is 100 % preventable. Just don't drive after you have been drinking. Besides, officers should be looking for erractic or impaired drivers all the time. Right?

  • hometechnc Dec 22, 2008

    Unfortunately, more Spin than Win with the State Highway Patrol DUI checkpoints! As a former Law Enforcement Officer, I have participated in several Multi-Department check points where the Highway Patrol was in charge.

    They typically start at 8:oo pm and end by 11:30 pm. Hardly "Prime Time" for DUI's! Sadly, their check points are more for P.R. than anything else.

  • Common Sense Man Dec 22, 2008

    "The American Beverage Institute is wrong, I say continue with check points, anything works better than doing nothing. One check point may save one life and that to me is worth it."

    You evidently didn't read the article. The ABI argued that roving patrols are more effective than checkpoints. They didn't mention anything about "doing nothing."