English: A sobriety checkpoint in East Haven, ...
English: A sobriety checkpoint in East Haven, CT. Also known as DWI Enforcement (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Approaching a sobriety checkpoint…

Have you ever been returning from dinner with friends or maybe a special event like a live theater production and happened upon a sobriety checkpoint? It can be somewhat startling even if you haven’t had any kind of alcoholic beverage throughout the day or evening.

Each municipality has its own routine for setting up a sobriety checkpoint and to the novice observer it may seem they have a way of profiling those drivers who arrive at the sobriety checkpoint. The police officer will waive certain cars through without much more than quick glance and then for no apparent reason certain drivers will be motioned to enter a separate designated lane. The police might ask the driver to present his/her license and registration and also inquire where the driver is coming from and going to and if the driver has had any alcoholic beverages.

The whole point of sobriety checkpoints is to reduce the number of impaired drivers on the road and to prevent horrific automobile accidents that can cause the death or serious injury of an innocent victim(s).

National Transportation Safety Board recommends lowering the BAC level for drunk driving

Currently in all 50 of the United States for one to be considered as driving under the influence and subject to arrest and prosecution his/her blood alcohol content (BAC) level needs to be 0.08 or above. This week the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended lowering this BAC to 0.05. Depending on your age you may remember a time in the United States when each year at least 20,000 people died as a result of alcohol related accidents. With a lot of hard work and education we have managed to lower that yearly figure to 10,000 deaths.

There are critics of this new proposal…

A number of associations immediately responded to the proposal set forth by the NTSB. The American Beverage Institute which is a trade organization stated that “at 0.05 individuals are as distracted as you are when you have the radio up too loud…this would have a devastating impact on the hospitality industry while having no corollary benefit for public safety.”

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) stated that “the issue with lowering the legal limit is that it will take a lot of effort for a potential result that is many, many years down the line.” (It should be noted that to move the BAC from .10 to .08 took 21 years for each state to implement.)

According to a USA Today article Sarah Longwell, the managing director of MADD stated: “Further restricting the moderate consumption of alcohol by responsible adults prior to driving does nothing to stop hard-core drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel.” Instead, the following items need serious consideration:

  • Administratively suspending a driver’s license immediately when a driver is arrested for being drunk. 
  • Suggesting states require steering locks on vehicles driven by convicted drunken drivers that would test the driver’s breath before returning to the road. The group also recommended incentives through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to encourage states to adopt the locks. 
  • Creating special courts to handle drunken-driving cases. 
  • Documenting the last place drunken drivers had a drink before their crashes.

MSNBC’s Jansing | &CO. filed the following report


If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Make a plan…

It really is pretty easy to make a plan to get home safely. Have a designated driver. If you do not have someone to drive you home after having a few drinks at dinner, then call a taxi. The cost of the taxi ride is miniscule when compared to the life of an innocent victim or your own.  One DUI conviction can and will be a life altering event: Your license may be revoked or suspended, your insurance may be cancelled or your rates increased, your career may be negatively impacted and your relationships with your family and friends will be affected.

It is important to remember: Alcohol is one of the most physiologically toxic of the substances of abuse. Even in the early stages of drinking, an alcoholic can suffer neurological, liver and other organ damage. Alcohol can also rob the brain of its natural ability to calm upset and anxiety. With each successive day of drinking, the alcoholic’s thinking becomes more disorganized and he or she is less able to manage the emotional stresses of life. When not drinking, the alcoholic suffers ever-increasing anxiety during the day and greater difficulty sleeping at night. This is where alcoholism treatment is essential.

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