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Are we safe out there?

May 21, 2009 - Mark Leberfinger

Time flies.

It's now the annual Memorial Day weekend. It means a time for families to get together, a time to remember deceased loved ones -- particularly those who died in the military service of the United States and a time to drink.

State police and the Blair County DUI Task Force say they will be out in force this weekend with sobriety checkpoints. Crash data are used to determined where a checkpoint will be posted.

Not everyone is happy with checkpoints.

The American Beverage Institute wants police to get away from the stationary checkpoints. It advocates roving patrols instead, which they say are more effective.

In addition to being ineffective, sobriety checkpoints target moderate, responsible drinkers -- costing taxpayers around $10,000 a checkpoint, the ABI said in a news release.

These roving patrols are up to 10 times more successful than checkpoints. Moreover, roving patrols can catch speeders, distracted and aggressive drivers, in addition to drunks, the ABI said.

"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," ABI Managing Director Sarah Longwell said. "That leaves adults who enjoyed a beer at a backyard barbecue or a glass of wine with dinner to be harassed at checkpoints."

Of course, the stationary checkpoints are highly visible and publicized in advance because that's the law set down by the courts. In Blair County, the county's DUI task force does both. Several patrol cars roam the area around the checkpoint.

Suspected DUI offenders can get caught either way.

What do you think? Do checkpoints work? Do they harass? What's the alternative?

Have a safe holiday weekend.


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