The Anne Arundel County Police Department has released its final statistics about a recent DUI checkpoint. The results are consistent with another Maryland DUI checkpoint on the Eastern Shore that was the subject of a previous blog entry, and provide further evidence supporting the conclusion that DUI checkpoints are not a cost effective method of cracking down on drunk driving. In this particular checkpoint traffic was basically slowed to a halt in both directions of Ritchie Highway in Brooklyn Park, Maryland. Anne Arundel County police officers as well as the Maryland State Police worked together in running the checkpoint. The county police did not release just how many total officers were involved, but a conservative estimate would put around twenty total officers at the scene for roughly five hours. Again, this is a conservative estimate for both the amount of officers involved as well as the time frame of the checkpoint. There were likely far more police resources expended in setting up the checkpoint, running it, and then closing up the scene. The statistics do not suggest that this particular checkpoint was worth the costs.
According to the Ann Arundel police, a total of 695 drivers were stopped in the Ritchie Highway DUI checkpoint. That is 695 drivers, and not total citizens that were forced by the government to submit to an involuntary stop. There were most likely over one thousands citizens that had an unwanted run in with the police that night. Out of the 695 drivers, Ann Arundel and Maryland State Police made a total of 5 DUI arrests. Far less than one percent of the drivers that were investigated for DUI actually exhibited enough signs of intoxication to warrant an arrest. Twenty plus police officers and 4 to 6 hours of police work and the only thing to show for it is 5 DUI arrests. For those counting, that is about 1 DUI arrest for every 5 officers, and about one per hour. The numbers just do not add up.
Those in support of the DUI checkpoint may also argue that other arrests were made that can justify the low number of actual DUI arrests. A total of 6 people were arrested for non DUI offenses including driving on a suspended license, drug possession, disorderly conduct (probably a thoroughly annoyed driver who was just on his or her way home and did not want to be forced to chat with police), and even prostitution. Is there not a better way for police officers to make arrests for these types of crimes? There is simply no logical argument for inconveniencing one thousand law abiding citizens so that police can make 5 DUI arrests and a few more arrests for minor misdemeanors. Not to mention to costs of running the checkpoint as well as the amount of police officers that were not working their regular patrols that night. As a previous blog post suggested, studies have shown that these DUI checkpoints do not have an effect one way or the other on the way the public perceives the crime of DUI. And, police could likely make the same or even more arrests working regular DUI patrols that do not force police contact on law abiding citizens. DUI checkpoints are an easy way for police to generate news about their respective departments, but the real value or lack of value in these checkpoints shows in the statistics.
Benjamin Herbst is a Maryland DUI lawyer specializing in all types of drunk driving and driving under the influence of drugs cases throughout the state. Contact Mr. Herbst at The Herbst Firm at 410-207-2598 for a free consultation.
Police Announce Results of DUI Checkpoint, patch.com.