Group thinks sobriety checkpoints are wrong way to catch drunk drivers

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Police will be out in force this weekend as people get an early start on Saint Patrick's Day celebrations.

You might see sobriety checkpoints, but one group thinks they're the wrong way to catch drunk drivers.

The American Beverage Institute believes sobriety checkpoints are ineffective and expensive.

Nate Peterson knows all too well about sobriety checkpoints.

"I've been tested, stepped out of the car touched my nose stood on one foot but it wasn't a problem," said Peterson.

He says he only had one drink.

ABI calls such checkpoints wasteful spending.

The group claims on average police departments spend ten thousand dollars for checkpoints that not only target moderate, responsible drinkers, but can be easily avoided because they're highly visible  and often publicized in advance.

"They're largely ineffective and also very expensive they catch very few drunk drivers if any at all," said Sarah Longwell of The American Beverage Institute.

Richmond resident, Erin Seder has a different opinion.

"Better to focus your sources there where they're going to be rather than circle all over the area wasting gas money and possibly not finding anybody," said Seder.

Richmond police officers have been roving city streets for drunk drivers since Thursday and will continue the high presence through Saint Patrick's Day.

That's exactly what ABI says should be happening.

"These are cops out on streets looking for negligent drivers of all stripes whether they are drinking and driving or speeders," said Longwell.

Peterson says his checkpoint experience was enough of a deterrent.

"Once is enough to make you realize you shouldn't be running around under the influence driving," said Peterson.

Last year, Richmond made nearly 700 DUI arrests.

They urge people to use a designated driver or call a cab.

Copyright 2008. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.