Sobriety Checkpoints: useless or helpful? - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Sobriety Checkpoints: useless or helpful?

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With so many people partying this weekend, police are ready on Michiana roads.   But do sobriety checkpoints actually work?  The American Beverage Institute says "no" and police should do away with them.  But local law enforcement officials say with holiday weekends like this one, checkpoints are essential.

"Socializing.  Seeing all the people dressing up.  It's almost like another Halloween for me," said Celebrating St. Patrick's Day Jennifer Ward.

"I'm Italian and Greek so I will drink for the Irish people," said Celebrating St. Patrick's Day Suzette Hoofnagle.

And drinking is why St. Joseph County DUI Task Force Commander Lieutenant Tim Williams says everyone on the roads should be extra cautious.

"You can't count on the luck of the Irish to protect you from a drunk driver," said DUI Task Force Commander Lt. Tim Williams.

But Williams says you can count on more sobriety checkpoints.  It's a tool police use that the American Beverage Institute says is ineffective.

"The hardcore drunk drivers who cause the mass majority of alcohol related fatalities simply go around them," said American Beverage Institute Managing Director Sarah Longwell.

But Williams says they've seen results from checkpoints throughout Michiana.

"One of the ones we had, we had four drunk drivers and three out of the four were repeat offenders," said Lt. Williams.

Williams says sobriety checkpoints and increased roving patrols act as a one-two punch against drunk drivers.  But Longwell wants sobriety checkpoints completely eliminated.

"All of those police officers who are standing at that checkpoint should be put out on the streets looking for distracted and negligent drivers," said Longwell.

While Williams agrees that roving patrols are more effective, he says what's key is to use multiple methods to prevent a deadly crash.

"We're out there to make sure our streets are safe so that our families our community families don't have to have an officer at their door with tragic news that they just lost a love one because of a drunk driver," said Lt. Williams.

And fear of death or injury and more officers out on the streets is why Jennifer and Suzette say they're not driving tonight.

"We've noticed it all over the place all week so I definitely think they're checking," said Ward.

"Cab rides home people!" said Hoofnagle.

Lieutenant Williams says the county's efforts to prevent deadly drunk driving accidents are paying off. He says last St. Patrick's Day there were 30 D-U-I arrests.  A typical weekend there are only 5 to 7.  More than 250 law enforcement agencies across the state have already increased their patrols. Those efforts will continue until next Sunday.

Reporter: Nadia Crow

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