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American Beverage Institute Speaks Out Against DWI Checkpoints

The American Beverage Institute (ABI) made spoke out recently against DWI checkpoints, saying they would like to see police around the nation do away with such untargeted efforts. The institute has a vested interest in doing so, being that they are a Washington D.C.-based trade association representing restaurants with liquor licenses.

Police in North Carolina and in 37 other states throughout the country have been relying on drunk driving checkpoints and coordinated "Over the Limit, Under Arrest" advertising campaigns in the past few years to curb the number of drunk drivers on the roads during times of the hear with high incidences of DWI arrests. Law Enforcement officials and representatives of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) will be the first to attest to the effectiveness of these campaigns, but the American Beverage Institute disagrees based on some recently compiled statistics.

The institute recently released statistics that indicate an average of just three DUI arrests are made for every 1,000 motorists pulled over at drunk driving checkpoints each year. Sarah Longwell, managing director of the ABI, indicated that such checkpoints are clearly not working as well as they should and that efforts of law should be focused elsewhere when targeting drunk driving.

Longwell claims the statistics show DWI checkpoints are inadvertently targeted towards legal moderate drinkers and sober drivers. Police, she claims, are wasting a large portion of their efforts that should instead be honed to catch extreme cases of drinking and driving. She says police ought to instead step up patrols to seek out individual drivers engaging in extreme or erratic driving.

The main complaint of the ABI is that restaurant customers may decline from having a drink or two with their meal out of fear they could be stopped at a checkpoint on the way home, serving as a deterrent for drinking in moderation - a legal practice. Potential patrons of a restaurant might decide to go somewhere else for a drink and dinner if they know a DWI checkpoint has been setup near the restaurant in question.

Nevertheless, MADD's support of DWI checkpoints is unwavering. The organization cites the fact that all states employing sobriety checkpoints have seen a 20 percent average reduction in serious and fatal drunk driving accidents once DWI checkpoints were put in place.

Source: Reuters "Corrected: Beverage Institute critiques drunk driving checkpoints" by Aman Ali 12/30/10

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