Monday, April 19, 2010

DUI checkpoint system disruption

Over the last decade I've witnessed the explosion of DUI checkpoints in our small town. It's pretty much an automatically propelled routine. States or the feds give grants to the local counties and cities in the name of "safety." The more money the police get for the programs, the more they seem to multiply. I recall when there was probably about 2 per year - usually on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. Now it seems there's about 2 per month. Sometimes the cops will get out a sign that says "DUI Checkpoint Ahead" and put their flashers on. But there's nothing even happening. I guess this is considered a deterrent.

My underlying point is that the system will continually feed on itself until the government redefines the priority of trying to stop drunk driving (that's never going to happen) or they run out of grant money (also never going to happen). Incidentally, they also have seat belt awareness stops where they ask to see your license, registration and proof of insurance. I'm particularly sensitive to these checkpoints because it would seem to me that in a small town, you could target specific areas which leads to profiling and the harassment of certain groups (low income trailer courts come to mind).

Well, what can you do to bring some accountability or balance to this runaway train? Here's the proposal. The police usually publish the locations of the checkpoints a day in advance. I would get a small group of people to drive through them at staggered intervals. Before entering the checkpoint scene, they will douse themselves with cheap whiskey or rum - any liquor with a significant odor. They'd be completely sober but would reek of alcohol. Obviously, the first words out of the cops mouth - "Have you been drinking tonight sir/ma'am." Your response could vary...

"I've had a few"
"Nope, I don't drink"

You could feign a little intoxication and exhibit some erratic behavior. The actual response is irrelevant. What matters is what comes next. The cops will ask you to exit the car and perform a variety of sobriety tests. You will then refuse all tests with one exception, you'll let them draw blood. Keep in mind that your actual blood alcohol level is 0.0. This will absorb time and manpower since they have to inform you of your miranda rights and physically take you to the hospital. Here's another approach. Purposely fail some of the balance, verbal skills and mental acuity tests. Hell, your alcohol free so there's nothing wrong with absorbing the maximum amount of time. Perhaps lie and even say that you've been drinking all day.

All these shenanigans will impact the current checkpoint model. The cops simply don't have a credible way to counteract this. And with the video cameras filming away, they must maintain very strict accordance to their established rules and procedures. They have an incredibly small margin for error. And they probably won't have the manpower on hand to adequately deal with multiple perpetrators.

Next you'll have your information campaign. Letter to the editor, inform the local TV news, signs and flyers, or perhaps coordinate some advertisements with a local attorney who specializes in litigating and defending DUI's. Your argument is a simple one. The cops harassed me and made my life a living hell even though I never consumed a drop of alcohol. These omnipresent checkpoints have gotten out of hand. If your group of individuals trying to game the system are racial minorities, it's even more convincing. Perhaps some of your pranksters could employ broken English. The main point here - all of a sudden these sobriety checkpoints will come under heavy scrutiny regarding their effectiveness and legality. They have finally been subjected to the generally laws of balance. Long overdue, I might add.

Considering the small town nature of Wheeling, this town is literally begging for a system disruption. It's ideal for testing precedent and procedure because the damn checkpoints are becoming increasingly prevalent. The only dilemma - pulling this thing off would take a helluva lot of testicular fortitude. Personally, even I wouldn't want to assume the burden and future stigma derived from such a stunt. And if I'm afraid to organize the whole thing, I can't fathom that someone else would take an active interest.

Seriously though, I find these checkpoints troubling. They will continue to gather momentum and sustainability until the pendulum swings the other way. We're on the brink of "Registration" checkpoints and "Proof of Insurance" checkpoints. Who knows, maybe random "vehicle inspections" are right around the corner. As the economy continues to erode, the government will naturally explore more invasive methods for exerting financial stress on its citizens. Until people fight back of course.

Just a note of reference. In all honesty, this whole thing was not my idea. It's from a friend of mine who shall remain nameless. Great idea though. Pulling it off though, well... that's another matter entirely.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

They had a seatbelt checkpoint by Sheetz on Friday. It was essentially a checkpoint. They had two people pulled over in the vicinity of Sheetz with one of them getting a sobriety test done.