Wednesday, January 9, 2008

DUI checkpoints abound...

The City of Goleta just received a grant from the University of California at Berkeley to set up more sobriety checkpoints this year. The applicant cited the CDC's assessment of 23 studies where the data show that "throroughly implemented" checkpoints reduce dui related crashes by 20%. Interestingly, the same studies show that the declines are just as great regardless of how long after the checkpoints the follow-up studies are done. Specifically, if the studies are done less than one year after the checkpoints the drop is 18% and if greater than a year, 17%.
Knowing the substantial and multiple privacy invasions which occur each time a checkpoint is set up (all in the name of reducing traffic fatalities), we can hope that the City of Goleta will excercise some discretion before they become known as the DUI checkpoint capital of the free world. There have already been a number of DUI checkpoints in Goleta since 2004 (24, in fact). As the trend continues, we can expect that the reduction in DUI related traffic fatalities will stay, perhaps, as high as 18%. How many lives will this actually save? Well, none. None, if you consider that Goleta is fortunate enough to have an average of one traffic fatality per year (alcohol related or otherwise). While I'm glad that the funding for these checkpoints does not all come directly from the local taxpayer, I know the local taxpayers are paying dearly in terms of how much their privacy is invaded; and to what end?

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