Police get even tougher on drunks

Thursday, October 9, 2003

It's a chicken-or-the-egg sort of question: Are DWI arrests up in Cape Girardeau because more people are driving drunk or because police are making a more concerted effort to arrest more drunken drivers? The answer: It doesn't matter.

What does matter is that illegally intoxicated drivers should know there's a good chance they're going to jail.

Cape Girardeau police have been conducting sobriety checkpoints. So far this year, police have arrested 191 people for driving while intoxicated, which is a 12 percent jump from this point last year. The department also appears to be on target to exceed last year's total of 234 DWI arrests, which was the city's highest total in at least six years.

Police point out that more than 40 percent of fatal crashes involve alcohol.

Several organizations have made the extra police effort possible. The checkpoints are funded by a grant from the Missouri Department of Transportation, which pays for a supervisor and eight other officers' participation. Another grant from the Division of Highway Safety also pays for two officers to focus on finding drunk drivers on key weekend nights.

But the officers themselves deserve most of our praise.

It's unfortunate that so many people are taking their lives -- and the lives of other drivers -- into their hands by driving drunk, but it should make us all rest easier knowing that police are watching and arresting those who do.

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