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Missouri DWI checkpoint funding down to $1

In less than a month, you might not be seeing as many DWI checkpoints around the state, as funding for checkpoints will drop to just $1.

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, meaning more officers on the road looking for drunk drivers.

Advocacy groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, tell ABC 17 News that DWI checkpoints is one of the best tools for law enforcement, because of the deterrence factor.

“When more people know about DWI checkpoints, that encourages them to not drive, and get a different ride home through Uber or a taxi,” Bud Balke, court monitoring coordinator for MADD, said. “Although it may not arrest as many people, like a saturation patrol, it is encouraging people to not drive drunk in the first place.”

But lawmakers say otherwise, stating that by not arresting as many people it’s not a good use of money.

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 also argued that checkpoints aren’t as effective anymore because the use of social media.

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

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

In April, Sgt. Brian Leer, with the Sheriff’s Department, told ABC 17 News that 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 get one arrested, that means it’s a good thing,” Leer said. “People aren’t driving intoxicated.”

Meghan Carter, executive director of MADD Missouri, told ABC 17 News on the phone that the organization would continue to fight and speak with lawmakers about either possible future legislation or reallocating funding back to DWI checkpoints.

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