Another legislative session brings another request by MADD for DWI roadblocks. The Texas lege has rejected this bad idea for 10 years. Hopes springs eternal for neo prohibitionist zealots. From DMN
“This could be the year,” said Mary Kardell, the executive director of the North Texas branch of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, referring to renewed efforts to legalize sobriety checkpoints… “There is so much outrage right now.”
What is a DWI roadblock?
Normally, the police must have reasonable suspicion to stop your car. That is, they must reasonably believe that you have committed any one of the hundreds of possible traffic infractions before pulling you over. This is an embarrassingly low standard.
Not low enough for MADD. MADD wants to let the police stop all drivers without cause, and then make the drivers prove they are sober and that they have their papers in order. This is MADD’s America, where DWI enforcement trumps freedom. MADD has already taken away your right to counsel, your right to a fair trial, your right to remain silent. MADD is betting you won’t mind giving up another minor constitutional protection.
MADD is selling the promise of safety and only asking for a little freedom in return.
Roadblocks don’t work!
The best reason to oppose police roadblocks is that they do not work. Here is a great quote from DUIblog.com
According to MADD’s own website, 40 states have checkpoints and 10 do not. Well, it would be interesting to compare the states with the highest percentage of alcohol-related fatalities with the list of states not using checkpoints: If MADD is correct, the states with the highest fatality rates will be the no-roadblock states. Fortunately, another section of MADD’s website provides such statistics for each of the states. The 5 states with the highest alcohol-related fatality rates:
According to MADD, all 5 states should be non-checkpoint states. In fact, however, 4 of these states use checkpoints; only Rhode Island does not. Well, what about the 5 states with the lowest fatality percentages? They are:
If MADD is correct about the effectiveness of checkpoints, these should all be checkpoint states. But as with the previous list, only 4 of the states permit the use of sobriety checkpoints; Iowa does not. As with the previous list, the percentage is what one would expect from pure random incidence: 20% of the states (10 of 50) do not have checkpoints — and 20% of the states on each list (1 of 5) do not use checkpoints. There appears to be no correlation between fatality rates and the use of checkpoints.
Pulling over every driver for a random search is not law enforcement. It’s police state idiocy to believe that we are safer when the police waste time harassing innocent motorists.
Note to roadblock supporters- If you want to stop DWI then you want the police out looking for drunk drivers!
Finally, roadblocks are always abused by law enforcement. What starts as a limited search for drunk drivers always turns into fishing expeditions for contraband. Another disturbing trend; police often record the information of every motorist stopped. Big brother then compiles a database of who travels in the “wrong” neighborhoods.
MADD comes to Austin every two years selling safety, and asking for freedom. Don’t be afraid to say no to petty tyrants with bad ideas.