A while ago I commented that roadblocks are a very poor way to catch DUI drivers. Police can stop a thousand citizens at a roadblock without catching a single impaired driver.
Proof of that is the March 25-26, 2011, roadblock on the corner of Collier Avenue and Riverside Drive in Lake Elsinore, California. Police said this was a high DUI area. They stopped 1,358 vehicles and questioned the people in them. One hundred and fifty three of those people we hauled out and made to do roadside tests in public. Police managed to arrest exactly ONE person for possible impaired driving. One. Pretty impressive, huh?
They checked everyone’s license. Some cars had more than one person. Two thousand people or so? The lucky ones were held for only a few minutes. 153 unlucky people were made to perform roadside gymnastics while their friends and neighbors drove by and watched. 152 of those people passed those gymnastics. They charged one person, so maybe one failed. Maybe he didn’t fail. Maybe they needed to keep one so they could say they caught someone.
There was a line in old WWII movies where the Germans at the roadblock said,”May I see your papers, please?” Everyone at the movie knew someone’s rights were about to get trashed.
The cost to our constitutional rights is high when police can stop us for no reason. The Fourth Amendment says police need real suspicion to stop and question us. Where is the suspicion? It’s wrong.
The dollar costs were pretty high, too. How many officers worked the roadblock? A supervisor or two? Two or three in front with flashlights? Two or three giving field tests? A couple standing by to drive people to jail? That’s about average for a roadblock that stops over a thousand cars. Probably somewhere between six and ten cops. To arrest one person. One person.
The average salary for a police officer in the Lake Elsinore area is $54,000 per year. That is $27 per hour. But DUI roadblock duty is usually overtime, so double that. And add 25% for benefits. The manpower cost was probably somewhere between $405 and $675 per hour. Figure the roadblock started about eight and ran until two or three in the morning. It cost somewhere between $2,400 and $4,700. To arrest one guy. And that’s not counting the cost of gas and equipment.
The money came from your tax dollars. The federal government paid for it. You paid for it. What the hell, the federal government has lots of money, right? Sure. Write your representatives and senators. Tell them we should not be paying for the government to waste our money and steal our liberty.