KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For the second year in a row, the Missouri House Budget Committee voted to cut state funding for sobriety checkpoints.
The move comes despite numbers showing more DUI arrests were made at check points on St. Patrick’s Day in 2017 than during saturation patrols during the holiday this year.
“We work a lot of those checkpoints with KCPD,” said Missouri Highway Patrol Sgt. Collin Stosberg. “They have proven to be very successful. In 2017, we arrested 42 drunk drivers in one static location on that particular night.”
Stosberg said in 2018, area troopers made 28 arrests on St. Patrick’s Day. Kansas City, Mo. Police and Jackson County Sheriff combined for 17 arrests.
In a statement to 41 Action News, Missouri Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick (R – District 158) outlined his opposition to checkpoint funding.
“The purpose of the House Budget Committee is to decide how to best spend the state’s money. When it comes to getting drunk drivers off the road, we looked at the effectiveness of saturation patrols compared to checkpoints and saturation patrols result in more drunk driving arrests at a lower cost. In 2016 alone there were more than 3,000 arrests as a result of saturation patrols, there were far fewer as a result of checkpoints, costing over $1,000 per arrest to perform. We’re not telling local law enforcement agencies they cannot do checkpoints, if they want to do them they can, but the state funds that go toward getting drunk drivers off the road are going to be better spent with saturation patrols.”
“When you're in a metropolitan area, it seems like the impaired drivers are more concentrated so we can pick a static location,” Stosberg said. “But state wide, you know 97 of the 114 counties in our state are rural counties, so saturation patrols are proven to be successful in those areas.”
Mothers Against Drunk Driving KC-Chapter Leader Leann Lewis, who lost her father in 2008 from a repeat drunk driver, says these funding cuts are disheartening.
“Sobriety checkpoints help save lives and I think that innocent lives are at stake,” said Lewis. “In this instance, you know these are things you can't get back -- people's lives -- and so that's what's really devastating.
“I do what I can and volunteer for MADD to try to help other mothers and daughters and dads and other people not have to have that knock on the door that says your loved one is no longer here.”
According to the CDC, checkpoints reduce about 20 percent of driving incidents.