A Little Inconvenience Is Well Worth Saving Lives


Last weekend, the Department of Public Safety and the Payson Police Department took special measures to curtail drunken driving in the Rim Country. DPS had a sobriety checkpoint in the Star Valley area while the Payson P.D. added extra officers to patrol the community.

A checkpoint might be inconvenient. People complain that their constitutional rights are violated, and the word "entrapment" even gets tossed about.

Nevertheless, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that sobriety checkpoints are constitutional -- it's a ruling that has been in place for 15 years.

Not every drunken driver is going to kill someone, but no one knows when they might be at risk of being a victim. According to statistics gathered by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, nearly every half-hour someone dies in an alcohol-related traffic crash.

Ask Monica Daniels about drinking and driving. Her brother was killed by a drunken driver over Memorial Day weekend in 1999.

Or think about David Goddard's family.

They weren't killed over a holiday weekend; the new Payson residents were hit by a drunken driver exiting onto Highway 87 from the Bush Highway as they returned from a shopping trip in the Valley.

Goddard's wife and stepson were killed instantly; his own son died later at the hospital. Now, Goddard and his 12-year-old daughter must rebuild their lives.

A little inconvenience for people coming home from Saguaro Lake that tragic day would have been well worth the three lives lost.

MADD's research shows sobriety checkpoints are one of the most effective tools to deter drunken driving.

The federal government is willing to put our tax dollars into the checkpoints. It recently passed a five-year highway bill that includes $29 million a year for frequent sobriety checkpoints.

The checkpoint by DPS resulted in seven arrests, a figure Sgt. Rich Alvarez called "unusually high." The officers made contact with 1,032 vehicles through the checkpoint.

Inconvenient? More often than not. Worth it? Every second, if it means getting a potential killer off the road.

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