One of the state's larger urban areas announced this week the resumption of regular police checkpoints primarily aimed at removing drunk drivers from the roads. The sobriety checkpoints are costly and consume a large chunk of public safety manpower. But to me at least, they are an effective tool for a variety of reasons. I wish we had more in our region.
Drunk drivers are a plague to the roadways regardless of the time of year. But with vastly improved weather just around the corner, drunk driving season is about to begin. Granted, the holidays offer their share of drunks on the highways. But summer in notorious for drunk drivers as well.
Law enforcement officials here and elsewhere struggle with the challenge of dwindling budgets and limited manpower. And perhaps sobriety checkpoints are less than effective in removing drunks behind the wheel of a car. But the mere chance that a sobriety checkpoint is planned will go a long way toward changing bad behavior. Or at least it should.
Checkpoints can also uncover other illegal activities other than DWI offenses. Drugs are often a prime topic during the checkpoints and illegal weapons surface as well. All in all, the checkpoints are a tool that can and should be used.
I suspect that if a checkpoint were publicized it would impact the drunk driving problem. Unannounced checkpoints are perhaps even more effective. But either way, knowing that law enforcement may indeed check your vehicle, your license, your insurance, etc. is one way to attack a problem that has grown by leaps and bounds.
I understand that area law enforcement authorities are planning some type of checkpoints during the upcoming months. We need to promote a reputation in this region against any tolerance for drunk drivers. And at the same time, we send a strong signal to those driving without insurance or without licenses that their behavior will not be tolerated either. If we truly want to improve our community and our region then regular police checkpoints might be a step in the right direction. The potential for inconvenience is far outweighed by the potential benefits.