Group fights to return sobriety checkpoint funding to legislation

Members of MADD prepare to speak at the Missouri State Capitol Rotunda
Photo from MADD's Twitter

ASHLEY HIGGINBOTHAMReporter

St. Charles City Police Department stood behind Mothers Against Drunk Driving as they spoke to the Missouri legislature in Jefferson City today about reconsidering funding for sobriety checkpoints.

“We are in full support of MADD approaching the legislature,” Public Information Officer Lt. Tom Wilkison said.

A law Missouri legislation passed last May prohibits law enforcement from using state money to fund the checkpoints. Since then, MO-DOT does not provide any funding.

“In order for us to conduct them, they have to be fully functioned by the department,” Lt. Wilkison said.

This requires almost all of their manpower. Lt. Wilkison said the checkpoints are a deterrent, but they do make arrests while they are happening.

“We do arrest people on those checkpoints for drunk driving,” Lt. Wilkison said, “We arrest fugitives, sometimes we make narcotics arrests, so I would say they’re highly effective.”

According to the MADD website, sobriety checkpoints reduce drunk driving crashes by 20 percent.

“This is an important law enforcement tool that serves as both a deterrent to anyone who might drink and drive and also to catch those who make the dangerous decision to drink and drive,” a statement released from MADD said.

With the use of social media to warn other drivers of checkpoints, many municipalities have started saturation patrols, which place a number of officers in areas commonly associated with drunk driving. The officers then pull over drivers going through their area.

St. Charles has not conducted a checkpoint since the law passed last year. Creve Coeur, Overland, and Wentzville are among the municipalities that also stopped conducting checkpoints.

“…essentially what the legislature has done by taking away the funding is they’ve taken away law enforcement strategies to deter and to go out and enforce and try to reduce drunk driving crashes,” Lt. Wilkison said.

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