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[10:31 AM] Dianne Hirner
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DWI sobriety checkpoints increase in Kansas City area

The number of driving while intoxicated (DWI) sobriety checkpoints recently increased in the Kansas City Metropolitan area to help reduce the numbers of alcohol-related collisions. According to Officer Mike Moore of the Kansas City Police Department, states have offered police departments grants to perform checkpoints throughout last summer and this fall.

Sobriety checkpoints are part of an enforcement strategy to decrease the number of alcohol-impaired drivers and collisions.  According to the blog of Chief James Corwin of the Kansas City Police Department, deterrance, education and arrest are the three goals officers focus on at checkpoints.

In Missouri, statistics of alcohol-related collisions and deaths determine when to increase the number of checkpoints. Summer holidays, according to Moore, pose a greater risk of collisions; thus, more checkpoints are conducted.

“Holidays in the winter such as New Year’s also require many checkpoints,” Moore said.

Sobriety checkpoints catch both teenagers and adults.  Currently, according to Moore, adults have the highest number of DWIs, but the number of DWIs for teenagers is increasing.

If a teenager is caught with alcohol in the system, they are automatically charged as minor in possession of alcohol.  In addition, every driver, teenage or adult, receives a DWI and a 30 day suspension of his or her license.

‘If you drink and drive and are caught, you have jail time, $5,000 to $8,000 for an attorney, insurance sky rockets,’ Moore said.

According to Moore, parents can educate their teens about the risks that come with drinking and driving to help prevent DWI arrests or fatal accidents.  However, peer pressure sometimes changes the mind of teenagers, putting not only themselves, but others, at risk.

‘Just because you are teens doesn’t mean bad things don’t happen,’ Moore said.

Officer Chris Petree of the Kansas City Police Department reminds teenagers that driving is a privilige which they can lose if it is used irresponsibly.

“Whether you are drinking and driving or just driving irresponsibly, those actions can send you to jail, affect your opportunity to attend college and your ability to have a career or just inconvenience the person who always has to drive you around,” Petree said.

According to Petree, Missouri has a “no tolerance approach” for teenagers who drive while intoxicated.  If a teenager is stopped at a sobriety checkpoint and caught, arrest is most often the outcome.

Drinking and driving can lead to more than a DWI charge.  According to Corwin, Involuntary Manslaughter is an additional charge which may result in seven years of jail time and a $5,000 fine.

“Besides legal trouble you have to remember that your irresponsible decisions caused the death or injury of your friend, family member, a mother, brother, sister, classmate,” Petree said.  “When you’re on the road, your decisions affect all the others on the road around you.”

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