Americans need to be careful on the roads this holiday weekend. Alcohol often flows freely at Thanksgiving weekend events and that puts drivers at risk - not of being in an accident involving a drunk driver, but of being inconvenienced by those pesky sobriety checkpoints.
That's the message coming from, yes, the American Beverage Institute, a large restaurant and alcohol producer industry group managed by a Washington lobbying firm.
"Statistics show that the average drunk driver in a fatal car crash was driving at a blood alcohol level more than twice the legal limit. Rather than targeting this dangerous population, sobriety checkpoints inconvenience all driving adults," reads an ABI press release urging law enforcement agencies to forgo the checkpoints.
The release argues that very few of the people who pass through checkpoints are actually arrested for being drunk - just 1 percent in California in 2008. It doesn't address the fact that the existence of the checkpoints might discourage drunk driving, leading to that desirable result or that research shows that sobriety checkpoints are indeed effective at reducing drunk driving, which kills about 15,000 people a year.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving also notes that:
-Research shows that those convicted of drunk driving for the first time have driven drunk more than 87 times before their first arrest, thus checkpoints are crucial for the prevention of drunk driving and in turn, for saving more lives; and
-Checkpoints have been shown to not only detect impaired drivers, but also drivers with suspended licenses, illegal weapons, stolen vehicles and numerous other violations.
The ABI advocates for roving patrols (presumably the same patrols that take place every day) to combat impaired driving - saying they are more effective - but does not note that checkpoints are conducted in addition to, and not instead of, such patrols.