Good Question

Nov 14, 2012 8:49 PM by John Reger

GQ: Why do police set up DUI checkpoints when they make so few arrests?

Tonight's Good Question is about the benefits of DUI checkpoints.

The question is: If DUI checkpoints don't catch many lawbreakers, why do the police set them up? Good Question.

It costs about $6,000 to run a checkpoint, usually with 8 officers and 1 records clerk. The money comes in federal grants.

The last checkpoint in San Luis Obispo was over the Fourth of July holiday. 1,368 vehicles went through; 684 were stopped and screened; there were 12 citations for suspended or no license, and 3 DUI arrests.

The next night in Santa Maria, 1,750 vehicles went through a checkpoint, 217 were screened, there were 11 citations for suspended or no license, but no DUI arrests. Bottom line for the holiday: $4000 per DUI arrest.

The checkpoints are announced to the public in advance, which might seem counter-productive. But the real goals of the checkpoints are to deter potential drunk drivers, promote public safety and raise awareness of drinking and driving dangers.

Santa Maria Police say alcohol-involved crashes drop 20 percent when checkpoints are frequent and well publicized.

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