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Should state enact sobriety checkpoints?

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Greg Peck
March 12, 2013

Among the latest batch of proposals to combat drunken driving in Wisconsin is one from Democratic Sen. Tim Carpenter of Milwaukee that would allow sobriety checkpoints.

Andy Thompson of the Post Crescent wrote about this topic. At checkpoints, police randomly stop vehicles on public roads to see if the drivers are impaired.

Rep. Dean Kaufert, R-Neenah, owns a tavern and is among those who balk at the idea as an unnecessary intrusion on individual rights.

ďI donít believe checkpoints are the answer,Ē he told Thompson. ďI worry about the infringement on civil liberties. The Legislature is not ready for checkpoints.Ē

Thompson says Wisconsin would become the 39th state to use sobriety checkpoints but that its passage is far from certain.

Iím undecided on this issue myself. I know our state has a terrible and tragic habit of drunken driving. In fact, a study released just today states that drinking to excess costs $6.8 billion in Wisconsin each year--and crashes due to drunken driving are a big part of that. I also know that St. Patrickís Day is this weekend, and itís one of the worst days for overindulgence. My relatives from all over will be gathering to celebrate my auntís 90th birthday. My wife and I will be traveling to join them.

I think we would be safer drivers if police were conducting sobriety checkpoints, but Kaufert has a point. Still, if we or some of our relatives wind up in an accident due to drunken drivers, Iím sure Iíll feel much stronger about the need for checkpoints.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook



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