Alcohol has ruined a lot of lives. Hell, it’s literally taken a lot of lives. So I’m all for stopping people from driving drunk.

But a big component of NJ’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign that starts Friday has already failed. It’s failed here. It’s failed in other states.

I’m referring not to the roving patrols which are the best way to spot dangerous drunk drivers but the intrusive DWI checkpoints. You know the drill. Police have to legally announce them ahead of time so for the career drunk there’s already a self-defeating heads-up.

Despite the fact police can pull you over if it’s obvious you’re trying to avoid one they’re pretty easy to avoid. That’s due to them usually being set up on busier thoroughfares to stop the most people. But this means you can see that activity far ahead and can often avoid them before making the maneuver obvious.

Studies have shown less than 1% of cars stopped result in finding an intoxicated driver.

The overwhelming reason they’re a failure however is statistical. In state after state, study after study, it’s been shown that less than 1% of all cars stopped are found to have a drunk at the wheel.

Examples:

A DWI checkpoint in California stopped 1,400 cars and found 0 drunk drivers.

A DWI checkpoint in Ohio stopped 450 cars resulting in 0 drunk drivers.

And this is common. Studies have shown less than 1% of cars stopped result in finding an intoxicated driver. Case in point: in Indiana over a four year period 91,278 vehicles were screened in DWI checkpoints and yielded less than 1%. A specific checkpoint in Indianapolis on August 24, 2018 found a success rate of only 0.3%.

Yet these checkpoints will dole out tickets for seat belt violations, expired insurance cards and a host of other infractions like handing out Halloween candy.

That’s money. And that’s what I would posit keeps these checkpoints happening.

Again, drunk driving needs to stop. Yet the much more effective way of stopping it is with roving patrols keeping an eye out for the more dangerous drivers with higher BAC levels who are starting to swerve and drive in a noticeably reckless manner. Not a DWI checkpoint just praying to catch one guy at a .08 who had wine at dinner with his wife. Keep in mind the average BAC for drunk driving arrests is .24.

I’m curious what officers themselves think about these Soviet-style roadblocks and planned traffic jams. But tell us what you think. Take our poll below.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.

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