Missouri Legislature Voting on Defunding Sobriety Checkpoints
Currently, the Missouri legislature is pondering defunding sobriety checkpoints in the state with measure HB4. A sobriety checkpoint is a predetermined spot where law enforcement can halt vehicles in order to check whether the driver is impaired. They were first introduced to the United States in the early 1980s. The Center for Disease Control studies also found that the checkpoints reduced alcohol-related crashes by 20%. Part of the reason they work so well is that they are deterrents for drunk drivers to stay out of the car and off the road when they’re inebriated.
However, state representative Scott Fitzpatrick is sponsoring legislation that would reduce available grant money for sobriety checkpoints to $1. Police departments could no longer apply for grants to fund sobriety checkpoints, making them all but obsolete. Instead, he’s calling for saturation patrols, or placing a larger number of officers on the road when the law enforcement believes there is a likelihood of drunk driving. He has compared the cost of a DWI arrest made by checkpoint, $1,000, and the cost of a DWI arrest made through saturation enforcement, $700, and has concluded cost effectiveness is more prudent than saving lives.
Meghan Carter, the executive director of the Missouri chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), has spoken out against this legislation. She disagrees with Fitzpatrick’s assessment, saying that people make life-saving decisions because they fear the possibility of being stopped at a checkpoint. She also believes checkpoints are still useful and referenced a recent Kansas City checkpoint as proof that they work, “There were 66 DWI arrests in a 48-hour period.”
HB4 has been approved by the House and is being sent to the Senate for approval. Please reach out to your representative, senator, and Representative Kathie Conway to urge them to reject this amendment and keep Missouri roadways safe. Representative Conway can be reached at (573) 751-2250 or e-mailed at Kathie.Conway@house.mo.gov. Visit the Missouri MADD website to read the press release about HB4.
If you’ve been injured in a collision with a drunk driver, contact one of our experienced Kansas City personal injury attorneys at Sanders.Law. Our lawyers and team are involved members of this community, and we work tirelessly to make it safer. Trust our experience and education. Call us at (816) 844-6938 or fill out our online form to schedule a free case consultation today.