DUI checkpoints will be set up around Tennessee to help increase safety for drivers over the summer. The effort will focus on the Memorial Day weekend, which is considered the start of the summer driving season. More vehicles will be on the road this summer, and holiday weekends are typically associated with an increase in drunk driving.
About 300,000 people are injured each year in drunk driving accidents nationwide. Drunk driving accidents are seen as totally preventable and the checkpoints are being used primarily for research purposes to see if the prevention efforts have been effective.
"The whole point of all of this is to make sure that folks are safe," said a spokesperson for the Shelby County Sheriff's department. He added that they aren't trying to catch people doing something wrong and issuing tickets, that the checkpoint effort is focused on safety alone.
Among the different ways that law enforcement has tried to encourage driver safety and reduce accidents is through an awareness campaign, using signs to show drivers the number of traffic fatalities in the state. There has also been a campaign to increase seatbelt use, and officers will be using the checkpoints to see if drivers and passengers are wearing their seatbelts.
The increased enforcement will cost taxpayers a relatively small amount, only about $200,000 over the Memorial Day weekend. One area resident told reporters that she thinks the expense is worth it to save lives.
Law enforcement officials also want to remind drivers that in addition to landing in jail for a DUI, there is also a high risk of injuring or killing someone in a drunk driving car accident.
Source: WREG Memphis, "TN Law Enforcement Plan DUI Checkpoints for Research," Adam Hammond, May 24, 2012.