Bill To Ban DUI Checkpoints Fails In The House 34-59

A bill to ban the use of DUI checkpoints in North Dakota failed in the House today, and the manner in which it failed was pretty frustrating.

The House Judiciary Committee gave the bill a “do not pass” recommendation, and Rep. Diane Larson (R-Bismarck) carried the committee’s criticisms to the floor.

“If even one drunk river is taken off the road it would be worth it,” she said of DUI checkpoints. Which is a ridiculous standard, don’t you think? We could probably take a lot of drunk drivers off the road by banning the use of automobiles after 9pm too, but that doesn’t mean we should do it.

Larson also said that a law enforcement officer told her committee that “even a checkpoint with zero arrests would be successful” because the existence of checkpoints raises awareness of DUI enforcement. Which is just silly. It is a statistical reality that saturation patrols are a much more efficient and effective use of law enforcement resources when it comes to DUI enforcement.

But perhaps the most frustrating aspect of this debate is that Larson stated the bill would create problems with compliance stops for commercial drivers and law enforcement stops used during murder investigations or Amber Alerts.

To the former point, Rep. Rick Becker (R-Bismarck) who sponsored the bill said he offered an amendment to address that specific issue, but the Judiciary Committee refused to adopt it. Becker admitted that the compliance checks were an oversight, but why not allow the bill to come to the floor with that obvious and easily fixed oversight corrected through amendment?

To the latter point, Becker pointed out that he checked that his legislation does not apply to those situations. This is something he verified with Legislative Council. This bill would not have prevented law enforcement from setting up checkpoints or making stops while searching for a murderer or a kidnapper.

It’s one thing when a bill fails because it just doesn’t have support. It’s quite another when a bill fails based on false premises and bad information.

Anyway, the final vote was 34-59. Watch the end of the video for the roll call.

By the way, most of the opposition to this bill came from law enforcement, and you have to wonder about their motivations. When are cops going to start caring about civil liberties and effective policy and less about federal grants and territorialism?

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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