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Drunks attract business?

July 1, 2014 - John Stack
Recently, there has been commentary about State Police DWI checkpoints in the area. Coincilman Rick Donah of Tupper Lake is taking a very different view of these checkpoints than I would expect from a public servant. These checkpoints are set up for a very specific reason. They are specifically set up to target DWI offenses. That’s why they are set up in high traffic areas, and on specific weekends, like Rugby weekend.

Donah says these checkpoints are a drag on business. I’m perplexed at what he means, if he doesn’t mean the obvious. He states “"When I have a full bar of people and I have to get in the car and drive someone home, it inconveniences my other staff and it's a problem for me, but I'll do it.”. I’m not sure of the problem here. If he had drunks in his bar, those over the legal limit, is he suggesting that if there weren’t DWI checkpoints that he would send them home drunk? Or, similarly, is he saying that people who plan on getting inebriated and driving home from the bar will now not visit the bar because they may be stopped by State Police? He asks about whether State Police should let locals know when there is going to be a checkpoint. To what end? So people who drink and drive can take alternate routes, or they can then choose to stay home, hurting business?

Exactly what should the State Police do? Back when bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, he supposedly replied “That’s where the money is”. Where should we spend our tax dollars to deter DWI offenses? Has anyone actually heard of people who have chosen to vacation at a different town because they were afraid of a DWI checkpoint here? I’d say it is a positive for our area. As a tourist, knowing the police are looking out for drunk drivers, I’d feel safer in an area with DWI checkpoints than a place known to be lax at enforcement. I really don’t think I’m alone on this one.

Recently, in response to this story, Chuck and Helen Cairns wrote a letter asking why cops ask where you are going, or where you have been. The writers suggested this was inappropriate, claiming the police were 'monitoring the movements of its citizenry" Let’s see. It’s a DWI checkpoint. What do you expect the officer to ask or do? Wait until he sees the guy swigging a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 he would then ask him to pull over? Is it that much of a violation to ask? I don’t even believe you are legally responsible to tell the officer where you were or where you are going. They aren't setting up a big database finding out where everyone is going, or even caring actually where you are going. It is a simple, incredibly widely used and accepted practice. I want the cops asking ME these questions. And all the rest of the drivers they pull over.

I remember my ex stepfather was in a shouting match with my mother when I was about 10. She went to leave with us kids. But he got in the car, stone drunk, and drove us back home. I was scared to death the whole 10 mile trip from our camp. I truly wish we had been stopped, and he had been arrested. I wish there had been a DWI checkpoint that night on Rt 28 in Richfield Springs. But, to hear it, he never should have been stopped, pulled over, or even asked a simple question. He should have been free to put my life, my mother’s life, and my 2 younger sisters lives in danger (as well as other motorists or innocent bystanders).

I’m not sorry. Keep up the checkpoints officers. I get pulle dover about once a month driving out here on 86, as well as the Northway and other places. It has never caused me to think about not visiting that area.


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