Driving drunk is stupid…and so are DUI checkpoints
2:52 PM EDT on July 24, 2012
Last night, I stumbled across an article in the Oklahoman while proofreading (irony, huh) Spencer's post about local news stories. It was the one about the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Department having to end their highly publicized, inefficient and lazy tactic of conducting monthly sobriety checkpoints to catch a few drunk drivers and, in the process, harass law-abiding citizens.
Overall, the article wasn't that bad. It provided a fair look at the issue, quoted representatives from the law enforcement and legal professions, and even questioned if the sobriety check points are necessary or effective (they are not). But towards the end, something struck a nerve. Here it is:
Spreading the word
Oklahoma City residents use Twitter and Facebook to tell their friends where checkpoints are, so they can avoid them if they have been drinking.
On the night of the June 30 sobriety checkpoints, a woman tweeted pictures of the six locations.
Another tweet that included the same photo read, “drive sober and stay away from these places tonight. We don't want you in jail sweetheart!”...
These two tweets June 30 were tweeted to the account holders' more than 400 followers. Then the two photos were retweeted by 35 other accounts to more than 50,000 Twitter followers.
“It's something we know with modern technology that people will be able to know and share where checkpoints are,” Myers said.
“Sometimes they will post it on Twitter and Facebook, that's just to be expected.”
Wait a second. As the image above shows, we were one of those 35 Twitter accounts that retweeted the list of DUI checkpoints, but to claim that we did so with the intent to help drunk people avoid checkpoints is misleading and wrong.
Here's a snippet of a chippy email I sent to Carmen Forman, the intern who wrote the article, and some of her editors at 1:30 this morning while most of you were sleeping. I left out some of the intro because it's redundant:
I'd like to draw your attention to a section of a story in Monday's paper titled "Oklahoma County sheriff's office is out of money to conduct sobriety checkpoints for the year..."
The Lost Ogle twitter account was one of "35 other accounts" that retweeted the photo to more than "50,000 Twitter followers," In fact, our 10,500 followers accounted for nearly 20% of those 50,000 views.
Because of that, I take a strong exception to the blanket statement that "Oklahoma City residents use Twitter and Facebook to tell their friends where checkpoints are, so they can avoid them if they have been drinking."
I know that I give you all a hard time every now and then on our website, but how did you let that slip? Were you trying to make a misleading and borderline slanderous statement? In case you care, I retweeted the photo because I believe that if the sheriff's department has the right to stop motorists at road blocks without probable cause, then citizens should have the right to know where those annoying road blocks lie. Could a drinker use that information to avoid a checkpoint? Sure. But so could some mom who wants to get home after a long night waiting tables and not have to deal with the hassle of having an out-of-date insurance card. As your story mentions, an overwhelming percentage of violations discovered at roadblocks are for those relatively minor offenses.
Maybe next time, instead of making ignorant conclusions and trying to label a random group of 35 people and/or businesses as pro-drunk driving, you should ask them why they re-tweeted the message. Maybe go to one of them for an explanation instead of a sheriff's office spokesman or random attorney. Hell, maybe even ask the person who re-tweeted the list of checkpoints to 11,000 people.
Keep up the extraordinary work -
PatrickFounder / EditorThe Lost Ogle.com
You know how in corporate HR training they tell you to never send an email to a coworker when you're angry. Well, the same is true when you're a slightly intoxicated blogger sitting on your couch at 1:00am while watching Big Brother After Dark. Nothing good comes of it. You just kind of feel silly the next day. So never send an angry email to anyone. Just publish it on your blog instead.
Seriously, how they made that conclusion is beyond me. Just because I strongly believe that DUI checkpoints are an abuse of power by law enforcement, violate the 4th amendment, and that people should have the right to know about them, doesn't make me a proponent of drunk driving. That would be like saying that someone who is for gun rights is also pro-murder. Well, I guess that is true, but you get my point.
Anyway, instead of setting up check points and harassing people with expired tags and burned-out headlights, maybe the sheriff's department will now target drunk drivers by performing real police work. You know, like pulling people over as the swerve between lanes, speed down Memorial or pull out of the Taco Bell drive-thru at 1:30am. If they follow that last tip, they'll have so many drunk drivers that they won't know what to with them all. That will be good for everybody.