Beginning July 1st, Missouri law enforcement agencies will not be able to use federal dollars to fund DWI checkpoints. Federal dollars covered a substantial portion of the cost of checkpoints. Without it, the future of checkpoints is uncertain.
If this deterrent for drunk drivers disappears, could an increase in car crashes follow?
DWI Checkpoints Vs. Saturation Patrols
According to an article from KBIA, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s traffic safety division commander has gone on record saying that without federal funds DWI checkpoints may be phased out entirely in St. Louis. Without the federal funds, there simply may not be enough money to pay for these checkpoints.
One of the reasons provided by lawmakers for cutting off federal money is the belief that DWI checkpoints are not as effective as saturation patrols. Some law enforcement agencies agree. In Cole County, checkpoints are being phased out. This is due in part to the rise in social media, which allows people to share the location of checkpoints and avoid them. Instead, Cole County is relying on saturation patrols, or DWI wolfpacks.
In Boone County, one sergeant says that the combination of DWI wolfpacks and checkpoints is powerful, and that taking away one tool will have a negative impact.
Only Time Will Tell
At this point, only time will tell what the full impact will be if DWI checkpoints are discontinued due to lack of access to federal funds. The fact is that drunk driving accidents continue to be a serious problem throughout Missouri, so hopefully there will be steps taken to offset the loss of these checkpoints and continue the fight to keep Missouri’s highways safe for drivers.