There was one of those announced DWI checkpoints in Monmouth County this weekend. The Monmouth County DWI Task Force set up in Ocean Township Friday from 10:00 p.m. Friday night to 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning at the Asbury Park traffic circle.

All northbound vehicles that entered the circle were diverted onto Lincoln Drive. Police say they screened hundreds of drivers to determine sobriety.

The results of the checkpoint according to authorities? Out of 686 vehicles, only one drunk driving arrest occurred. There were nine summonses written for other offenses. So 99.854% of drivers inconvenienced were perfectly sober.

Photo by Why Kei on Unsplash
Photo by Why Kei on Unsplash

Now I’m not condoning drunk driving in saying DWI checkpoints fail us. Quite the opposite. I’m so concerned about drunk driving that I see it as a waste of resources unless your true goal is officer overtime pay and not stopping drunk drivers.

Studies show when those same patrol cars used in checkpoints are instead used to patrol a wide area and look for telltale signs of higher BAC levels that are usually involved in serious drunk driving crashes, it’s a more effective way of stopping the bigger threat.

DWI checkpoints are notoriously expensive versus the results they yield. Far more tickets are written at these Soviet-style roadblocks for things like not wearing a seatbelt and expired inspection stickers than arrests are made for drunk driving.

Some examples:

In California a checkpoint inconvenienced 1,400 drivers and not a single drunk driver was found. In Ohio 450 drivers were stopped with not one drunk driving charge.

In many studies, DWI checkpoints are found to be ineffective.

The University of Maryland conducted a study in 2009 which concluded checkpoints did not have “any impact on public perceptions, driver behaviors, or alcohol-related crashes, police citations for impaired driving and public perceptions of alcohol-impaired driving risk.”

Photo by Per Loov on Unsplash
Photo by Per Loov on Unsplash

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration examined this question and found checkpoint programs in several states did not have any effect on drunk driving awareness.

Supreme Courts in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire have concluded roving patrols catch 10 times more drunk drivers than DWI checkpoints. The FBI concurs, stating roving patrols of police officers are shown to result in more drunk driving arrests than checkpoints.

No one should want to see dangerously drunk drivers get away with it. There’s simply a better way than checkpoints to stop them.

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Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.

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