Law enforcement in Central Ohio is participating in a state-wide crackdown on drunk driving, as reported by NBC4i. They are trying to send the message: “if you drive drunk, you will be caught and arrested”.
The state-wide campaign, “Over The Limit, Under Arrest” began on August 20, 2010 and continues through Labor Day. The campaign is planned to include dozens of checkpoints and more than 1,300 hours of saturation patrols around the state. In central Ohio, part of the “enforcement blitz” included an O.V.I. (D.U.I.) checkpoint in Westerville on August 20. When the campaign was announced, leaders of various law enforcement organizations also announced a “Joining Forces To Save Lives” partnership.
Joining forces to save lives is a worthy cause. Unfortunately, sobriety checkpoints are ineffective: hundreds of drivers are stopped, only a very low percentage are driving under the influence, but all are inconvenienced. For example, 853 drivers went through the D.U.I. checkpoint in Westerville on August 20, 359 were stopped, and two were under the influence.
Additionally, an “enforcement blitz” sometimes snares the wrong people in its net. Imagine a driver that gets pulled over for a minor traffic violation and has an odor of alcohol on her breath because she had one drink with dinner. If she has poor balance and “fails” field sobriety tests, she’s likely to be charged with O.V.I. as part of the crack-down, even though the drink really wasn’t impairing her ability to drive.
Everyone agrees that we need to apprehend and punish drunk drivers. However, we also need to distinguish between “drinking and driving” and “drunk driving” to make sure that hyped-up crack-downs do not result in overzealous enforcement and undeserved punishment.