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DWI checkpoint funding at risk across state

DWI checkpoints across the state could be at risk of losing their state funding for the next fiscal year.

Missouri House Bill 4, a budget bill, would only appropriate $1 to fund DWI checkpoints and the rest of the funding would go toward saturation patrols.

Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, the author of the bill, said local police departments would have to find ways to fund DWI checkpoints if they wanted to continue to conduct them.

Fitzpatrick told ABC 17 News he doesn’t believe the checkpoints are as effective as saturation patrols.

“Funding saturation patrols are far more effective, they get more drunk drivers off the roads at a lower cost,” Fitzpatrick said.

The Boone County Sheriff’s Department wouldn’t comment on pending legislation but expressed how beneficial DWI checkpoints can be because they target more people at once than saturation patrols do.

Sgt. Brian Leer with the Sheriff’s Department said depending on which data you look at, and how you interpret it, the smaller number of arrests to him means checkpoints are more effective.

“If you have 100 stops, and only one gets arrested that means it’s a good thing,” Leer said. “People aren’t driving intoxicated.”

According to data released by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, at the last checkpoint in March, 656 vehicles were stopped, leading to 19 arrests.

Part of Fitzpatrick’s argument for why checkpoints aren’t as effective anymore is because of the use of social media.

“People will post about where a checkpoint is,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s just so easy to go around it and get around a checkpoint.”

Leer believes there is nothing wrong with alerting people ahead of time.

“I love social media, what it does is it changes people’s plans, people that were going to drive, decided not to do it,” Leer said.

The Boone County Sheriff’s Department said in any given fiscal year six to 12 checkpoints will be done, resulting in about 10 to 12 staff members working it.

Although no dollar amount could be given, Leer said anywhere from 30 to 40 man hours are used to do one checkpoint.

The bill is currently in the Senate committee and waiting to go to the full Senate. Fitzpatrick said he has confidence the bill will get to the full Senate sometime next week.

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