Corrected:Beverage Institute critiques drunk driving checkpoints

(Changes headline, and in first and fourth paragraphs changes descriptions of American Beverage Institute to …trade association…)

By Aman Ali

NEW YORK (BestGrowthStock) – As police around the country set up drunk driving checkpoints this New Year’s weekend, a restaurant trade association wants to see checkpoints done away with and enforcement resources shifted to patrols.

Police in New York and many other states will use checkpoints to pull over drivers at random in hope of stopping drunk drivers and deterring others from driving under the influence.

“We’ll certainly be increasing our staffing and setting up checkpoints all over,” state police Sgt. William Dexter told Reuters. “We’re doing an advertising blitz letting people know we’re going to be out there.”

The American Beverage Institute, a trade association based in Washington, D.C., for restaurants that serve alcohol, said on Wednesday they’d like to see cops do away with the checkpoints. The group released statistics saying an average of three drunk driving arrests are made from every 1,000 people cops pull over from the checkpoints each year.

“These checkpoints represent the wrong way we look at traffic safety,” said Sarah Longwell, ABI managing director.

“They target responsible adults who either haven’t been drinking or have been drinking moderately and legally prior to driving. They don’t do a good job of targeting the hardcore drunk drivers who cause the vast majority of alcohol-related fatalities.”

The group Mothers Against Drunk Driving said 38 states and the District of Columbia use drunk driving checkpoints. MADD said these states saw an average of 20 percent reduction in drunk driving crashes and fatalities when checkpoints were implemented.

“If people see the checkpoints while they’re out driving this weekend, these people are going to tell somebody else and that’s spreading the word to deter drunk driving,” MADD president Laura Dean-Mooney said.

Longwell told Reuters that police should shift resources from checkpoints to more patrols that pull over drivers individually for dangerous driving. She deemed checkpoints as excessive, saying they go beyond drunk driving and try to deter people from drinking legally too.

“People shouldn’t feel they’re going to get harassed for having a glass of wine with dinner or a beer at a ball game,” she said. “They should feel somebody is going to catch them if they’re above the legal limit.”

Dean-Mooney said checkpoint burdens are grossly outweighed by the benefits.

“These checkpoints typically take only 30 seconds to a couple of minutes,” she said.

“That 30 seconds could potentially save a lifetime for someone not injured by a drunk driver.”

Dexter said state police are more than happy with using checkpoints and don’t have plans on stopping them.

“Certainly the awareness of checkpoints here is reducing the number of arrests because we’re seeing a steady decrease over the years,” Dexter said. “That tells me people that are drinking are staying where they are, getting designated drivers or paying for public transportation.”

(Editing by Jerry Norton)

Corrected:Beverage Institute critiques drunk driving checkpoints