DUIs are big business in America. long gone are the days when a police officer would find you behind the wheel with too much to drink and simply escort you home with a scolding. This system has its roots in political pressure, when in the 1980’s, congress was lobbied to change our drinking laws. The initial focus was to raise the drinking age to 21. Congress could not force states to do this, but they could hold Federal highway funds hostage unless states complied. One by one, every state eventually folded to the pressure of raising the drinking age in order to get money for crucial infrastructure. That was the first in a long line of demands. Now, states are dependant upon federal grant money to function. Federal grants are available to fund DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols. Federal grants are available to fund alcohol counselors, prosecutors, and advertising. The more states depend on these Federal grants, the more states succumb to the extremely successful lobbying efforts of interest groups aimed at perpetuating this system.
We have all seen a DUI checkpoint. What you may not know is they are advertised ahead of time. If you frequent bars more than walking distance away, setting a Google Alert for DUI checkpoint in your city is not a bad idea. It is no guarantee you won’t be surprised, but advance notice never hurts to help you make smart decisions. A saturation patrol is different though. A saturation patrol is when the police department gets grant money to pay a police officer overtime to look only for evidence of DUIs. This means there is at least one police officer on the road who is only looking to find people drinking and driving. What are they looking for? Did you come to a complete stop at that stop sign? Did you maintain your speed at a constant rate? Is your taillight out? Is your license plate fully illuminated? All he or she needs is any valid reason to pull you over to find out if you have any alcohol in your system. A great way to get pulled over or have an accident is to be distracted. Changing the radio, talking on the phone, doing anything other than focusing on the road is a recipe for disaster. Telling signs are often failing to maintain speed and failing to stay in your lane. I am not advocating drinking and driving, but putting on the cruise control and focusing only on your driving will go a long way towards staying safe.