It is true that automobiles make it convenient for people to get around. Drunk driving is a serious crime – in terms of its prevalence and its consequence. A statistic from British Columbia Ministry of Justice shows, from 2008-2012, 472 people were killed in road crashes that involves at least one driver with a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) over 0.08 in BC, and these alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities accounted for 26 percent of the total motor vehicle traffic fatalities (MVFBC). Alcohol-impaired driving remains a serious problem that tragically effects many victims annually. As a result, a great emphasis is needed on the implementation of effective and efficient strategies to prevent drunk driving. Many experts have been trying to use various strategies to prevent people from impaired driving over the last 50 years. Faye S. Taxmana and Alex Piquerob claim, “[i]n particular, license suspensions and license revocations provided the most consistent evidence for deterrence.”
On the other hand, J. Yu claims, “[w]hen both license actions and fines are considered, the latter is likely to be more effective than the former for repeat offenders”. In addition, R Reis and J Nichols claim, “[l]onger term treatment programs are the only approaches that have demonstrated reductions in DWI (driving while intoxicated) offenders”. Although these strategies taken by other researches contain merit, they fail to consider the fact that only a small portion of drunk drivers can be found by policemen each day. In fact, the most useful and feasible solution to prevent drunk driving is setting more DUI (driving under the influence) checkpoints to arrest all drivers who have an illegal BAC level. The key supports exist to prove the superiority of setting more DUI are that the possibility for the drunk drivers being caught will be higher, people’s belief will be reduced, and, ultimately, the number of drunk drivers will be lower.
The possibility of the drunk drivers being caught will be higher if more DUI checkpoints are set. A DUI checkpoint is a roadblock set up by law enforcement officers to detect and deter impaired driving. At checkpoints, multiple law enforcement officers funnel all traffic into a controlled area and perform brief interviews (10 – 30 seconds) with drivers to determine if they are impaired by alcohol. If a driver shows the evidence of drinking alcohol, the police can run a more thorough screening, including using alcohol interlocks (Low-Staffing Sobriety Checkpoints). Every drunk driver can be detected when they pass though DUI checkpoints and as a result, the possibility of drunk drivers being arrested would be much higher. A study conducted by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that for 562,611 Vehicle Contacts made, 3187 drunk drivers be arrested (Checkpoints Strikeforce).
DUI checkpoints play an increasing efficient and effective role in detecting drunk driver as a dependable means. In a road system with more DUI checkpoints, the average distance a drunk driver goes through will decline, which means having more DUI checkpoints can arguably prevent a large portion of traffic incidents caused by intoxicated driving in an earlier stage and provides an efficient way to find and punish impaired driving. Although license suspensions or revocations is a popular way to prevent drunk driving, it is a limited solution because it cannot prevent people who dare to break the law from driving without license. An estimated 25-75% of drivers who are suspended, revoked, or otherwise unlicensed, continue to drive anyway (Robertson, Robyn D.and Erin A. Holmes.). Setting more DUI checkpoints can also prohibit this driving without license phenomenon to a large extent.
Consequently, people’s beliefs will be reduced since drunk drivers have a high possibility to be arrested. Citizens aware of checkpoints probably are more likely to use a designated driver or to make arrangements to stay over if they are drunk. An expert in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claims, “[c]heckpoints deter motorists from driving under the influence. With zero tolerance, it identifies and arrests those who get behind the wheel while impaired (Checkpoints Strikeforce). Setting more DUI checkpoints can not only arrest drivers but also deter people. Melissa Walden and Troy Walden claim, “[t]ime spent by officers interviewing unimpaired drivers is not wasted; these interactions provide the impetus for the community to recognize an increased arrest risk when driving while intoxicated, and respond by choosing not to engage in this activity”(2).
To normal drivers, frequent checkpoints can also ring an alarm bell, reminding them not to drive after drinking next time. It cannot be denied that some people drive after drinking just because they do not expect the potential danger or punishment, with no intention to violate the law. If there are more checkpoints on the road, drivers will bear in mind that drunk driving is always dangerous and easy to be arrested. Although fine is another popular punishment for drunk drivers, Comparing it with arrest to jail, this punishment is too mild to prevent people from impaired driving since most rich people do not care a fine of few hundred or even thousand dollars at all. To the extent that checkpoints as an effective tool can prevent drunk drivers from escaping punishments.
Finally, the number of drunk drivers will decrease due to more checkpoints on the road. A successful sobriety checkpoint program, in which all drivers who have an illegal BAC-level will be arrested when they pass through checkpoints, can increases the real or perceived risk of being arrested for driving while drunk. If a driver is hesitating between driving while drunk or designating a driver, they will likely consider the risk of arrest and the resulting punishment from choosing to drive. By this logic, the phenomena of drunk driving will be reduced. Actually, many law enforcement agencies all over the world believe the relationship between the increase number of roadblocks and the decrease number of drunk drivers, and they have set up more DUI checkpoints on the road in the past few years. For instance, a statistics conducted by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that police departments across the United States conducted 36,511 sobriety checkpoints in 2010, nearly tripling the number in 2009, 12,700 (Increasing Impaired-Driving Enforcement Visibility).
This kind of implements has produced desired results. Melissa Walden and Troy Walden claim, “[a]n overview of the research from the past 30 years consistently demonstrates that sobriety checkpoints reduce alcohol-impaired crashes by 20% and fatal crashes thought to involve alcohol by 20% and 26%”(1). It shows that setting sobriety checkpoints is also an efficient and effective way to prevent crashes caused by drunk Driving. Although using treatment programs is another popular method to prevent drunk driving, it usually does not work for repeat DWI offenders. Taxman and Alex Piquero claim, “[f]or repeat DWI offenders, most research suggests that education and treatment programs have little impact on DWI recidivism and no impact on alcohol-related crash involvement.”
As analyzed above, in order to tackle drunk driving, which remains an important traffic safety priority despite the overall reductions in fatalities, a successful sobriety checkpoint program will definitely make sense. More DUI checkpoints will effectively enforce the law and arrest those drivers who deserve the punishment. What’s more, it will pose deterrence and have an educational function to those normal drivers and remind them not to drive after drinking at any time. In the light of related research and persuasive factual statistics, setting up more DUI checkpoints will be a good starting point from which we would make more sensible important modifications on today’s society to promote public safety.
Canada. British Columbia Ministry of Justice. _Motor Vehicle Fatalities in British Columbia: Statistics._ 2013. Web.
Taxman, Faye S, and Alex Piquero. “On Preventing Drunk Driving Recidivism: an Examination of Rehabilitation and Punishment Approaches.” _Journal of_ _Criminal Justice_ 26 (1998): 129-143. Print.
Yu, Jiang. “Punishment Celerity and Severity. Testing a Specific Deterrence Model of Drunk Driving Recidivism.” _Journal of Criminal Justice_ 23 (1994): 355-66. Print.
Reis, R. _The Traffic Safety Effectiveness of Education Programs for Multiple Offense Drunk Drivers._ Technical Repor_t_, DOT Contract HS-6-10414. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“Low-Staffing Sobriety Checkpoints.” _National Highway Traffic Safety_ _Administration_. N.p., Apr. 2006. Web. 3 Mar. 2014.
“Checkpoints Strikeforce.” _National Highway Traffic Safety Administration_. N.p., Nov. 2008. Web. 1 Mar. 2014.
Robertson, Robyn D., and Erin A. Holmes. “Effective Strategies to Reduce Drunk Driving.” The Knowledge Source for Safe Driving. N.p., July 2011. Web. 28 Feb. 2014.
“Increasing Impaired-Driving Enforcement Visibility: Six Cases Studies.” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. N.p., Feb. 2013. Web. 1 Mar. 2014.
Walden, Melissa, and Troy Walden. “Sobriety Checkpoints.” _Texas A&M Transportation Institute_. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Mar. 2014.