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Government urges more sobriety checkpoints despite fall in DUI

With the increase in sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols to stop people suspected of drunk driving across Maryland and the United States, it would be reasonable to assume that there has been an increase in drunk driving. Although crackdowns and heavy patrolling may indicate a rise in activity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported the number of drunk drivers is down 30% from 2006.

Sobriety checkpoints are used by police officers to stop each individual driver on a specific stretch of road, so that an officer can guess whether a driver has had something to drink. Some checkpoints take forever to get through, only to have a police officer ask you intrusive questions and try to determine if you were drinking without actually administering breath or blood tests.

A saturation patrol relies on numerous police officers or state troopers to stop any driver suspected of drunk driving within a specific area. Officers involved in saturation patrols may be looking for driving behavior that indicates alcohol consumption, but many suspicious driving patterns could also be attributed to other physical conditions, such as fatigue or poor vision.

While the director of the CDC is aware that the number of drunk driving incidents is down, he strongly recommends that state and local governments increase the number of sobriety checkpoints in the United States. He also is a strong supporter of ignition interlock systems that prevent anyone from operating a car without first passing a breath test. The director is urging state governments to take a stronger approach to drunk driving.

It is undeniable that drunk driving accidents can result in serious injury, but there needs to be an extremely compelling reason why Maryland and the other states should use invasive and intrusive methods to stop drunk driving. As the number of DUIs fall, so do the reasons why stronger and more robust restraints on drunk driving should be enacted.

Source: WebMD Health News, "4 Million in U.S. Admit Drunk Driving," Daniel J. DeNoon, Oct. 4, 2011

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