Each year, MODOT distributes federal dollars to various law enforcement agencies for DWI checkpoints. But one Missouri representative has successfully lead a bill through the House that would get rid of this MODOT grant program.
It wouldn't eliminate DWI checkpoints, only make them harder for cities and counties to fund.
State Representative Scott Fitzpatrick has gone on the record as saying he doesn't think DWI checkpoints are effective at getting many drunk drivers off roads. Carthage Police Chief Greg Dagnan says numbers don't carry a lot of weight, when it comes to checkpoints.
Dagnan says, "When we basically tell people don't drink and drive because there's going to be a checkpoint in Carthage, and they don't, we have to call that a success, right?"
Nonetheless, the Missouri House has passed a bill that restricts MODOT's checkpoint funding program to a total of $1.
"Right now, our grant that we get from MODOT to do these is about 35-hundred dollars," says Dagnan.
State Representative Fitzpatrick says MODOT should instead fund more DWI saturation patrols, which Dagnan says are not always as efficient as checkpoints.
"You talk about an officer who can stop three cars an hour. So, if you have even five people involved in the saturation detail, you're, at the most, contacting 15 people an hour. Average checkpoint around here, a thousand cars come through," says Dagnan.
"We know we need as many tools as we possibly can have to help reduce the numbers and severity of motor vehicle crashes on our state's highways," says MODOT Highway Safety Director Bill Whitfield. "We need to do everything we can to drive that number to zero."
MODOT officials say they will only watch how this DWI checkpoint funding bill is handled in the state senate.
"As always, it's a matter of if something else comes along and becomes a higher priority, then we'll have to make that tough decision. It's just to nice having the federal money, because we don't ever have to figure out if we can afford it this year or not," says Dagnan.
State Representative Scott Fitzpatrick asked us to reschedule a phone interview with him today. However, the Representative never got back to us for comment on this story.
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