Let’s face it, no one likes to round a curve on a road in our area and see a bank of blue lights flashing ahead. There is an immediate thought of, “Oh, boy, what have I done? Do I have my insurance cards up to date? Oh, I hope I didn’t forget my driver’s license.”
To law-abiding members of our community, checkpoints and roadblocks are an inconvenience. Some cry foul at checkpoints and roadblocks, and we must wonder if the reason they cry foul is that there is something trying to be hidden?
On Page A8 in today’s newspaper, the Jones County Sheriff’s Department released statistics on a month-long enforcement project that was paid for through grants, which means taxpayers did not foot the bill. The enforcement period went from July 4-31 using 15 saturation patrols and a checkpoint.
The proof of the effectiveness of the operation comes when one sees that five DUI-alcohol arrests were made. That in itself will not end the scourge of drunk driving, but taking those five people off the road could have saved countless lives. Eight arrests were chalked up to DUI-drugs, whether it was someone driving high on marijuana, meth or whatever. Is it not in the public interest to have those drivers off of our roads?
A couple of the statistics were alarming beyond alcohol-related arrests. Twenty citations were issued for child-restraint laws and 59 citations were given for people violating the seat-belt laws. Research over the decades has shown that wearing a seat belt will not guarantee survival in an automobile accident, but there is no doubt the chances of surviving are increased dramatically by wearing a seat belt. Maybe those drivers don’t care about their own livelihood, but the 20 who were issued citations for not restraining children — shame on you. As an adult, you can make your own decisions, but children do not have that luxury. Adults — and in many cases we use that term lightly — are responsible for those children. If nothing else, secure the children in vehicles using seat belts. Again, maybe it won’t stop everyone from violating that law, but it might for those 20 people now facing fines.
Other violations found were drivers with no insurance. Want to know why law-abiding people have to pay so much for insurance? Because too many drive without it and that drives up the price for those who do. Get insurance. Forty-four citations were given for drivers with no licenses and another 37 for suspended licenses. There is a reason people have their licenses suspended — to keep them off the road.
The point is, all of these people who were booked or given citations would have otherwise been allowed to go on their merry way drunk, high, with unrestrained children and without having a proper license to operate a motor vehicle.
So the next time you roll into a checkpoint, ponder the real reasons it’s there.
As Sheriff Joe Berlin said, “There is an easy way to avoid getting a traffic violation citation or be arrested for impaired driving by a JCSD deputy — just do right and stay in compliance with state laws, and then we won’t have a reason to stop you and write a citation.”