Have you ever considered how checkpoints can help reduce and prevent underage drinking? Consider this: underage drinking cost Georgia citizens $1.2 billion in 2013. GUIDE is one of 41 providers working to reduce this very issue in Georgia.
As such, one of our target areas is South Gwinnett. Through research from the Communities Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol program, we know that adolescent alcohol use is significantly impacted by environmental influences, such as legal, economic, commercial and social availability of alcohol. Therefore, we have collaborated with the City of Snellville and the Snellville Police Department to reduce retail and social availability of alcohol to minors.
Councilman Bobby Howard was instrumental in establishing this partnership in April 2014 as a staunch supporter of preventing and reducing underage drinking as well as drinking and driving. Through his vision, the Snellville Cop/Cab program was created, which helped us initially to provide substance abuse prevention resources to Snellville at community events. We are now pleased to fund some of the DUI checks conducted by the Snellville Police Department.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) explains that the ultimate goal of a DUI or sobriety checkpoint is “not to arrest people, but rather to deter people from committing DUI.” These checkpoints are a technique that law enforcement uses where officials stop vehicles in a particular sequence and “evaluate drivers for signs of alcohol or drug impairment.” This, of course, can help officials find drunk drivers, but it also prevents others from driving under the influence after hearing about the checkpoint. When laws are enforced during these checkpoints, the perception changes in the community; this assists more people in making safer and healthier decisions such as not drinking and driving, not overserving someone at a restaurant or not allowing minors to purchase alcohol. These checkpoints are important as they “can reduce alcohol-related crashes and fatalities by 18-24 percent” according to numerous studies found by the Centers for Disease Control.
The Snellville Police Department conducts DUI or Impaired Driving Checkpoints on a routine basis. Snellville’s Chief of Police, Roy Whitehead, tells us why these checkpoints are imperative. “Our goal is prevention and deterrence in order to keep our roadways as safe as possible. By sharing the information that checkpoints will be held, we hope that people will make informed and better choices so that they will not drink and drive. The loss of any life is a tragedy, and better choices can prevent them from occurring. We are always willing to do our part.”
During a recent Impaired Driving Checkpoint in March, officers from the Snellville Police Department checked 45 cars. Fortunately, none of the drivers were cited for driving under the influence.
We want to thank our partners at the Snellville Police Department for taking action to reduce the cost and related effects of underage drinking, such as DUIs and alcohol-related crashes, in our community by conducting DUI checks on a frequent basis!