DUI Roadblocks, Seat Belts, And Speeding

Posted: 09/01/2007 by that's Elbert in cars, Delaware, Laurel, Laurel Delaware, laws, opinions, police, Rants/Opinions

Last Saturday, 8/25, I drove up to Seaford to pick up my son from work. The obvious route for me is Route 13. Signs have been up for a while indicating that road work was being done. Anyone that’s driven this road has seen the mess that has been made. I saw lights on and signs indicating a lane was closed so I assumed road work was being done. I realize that Saturday night was a weird time to do the work but I’ve seen weird stuff like that. Traffic was slow, and knowing that I was running late I decided to turn around and take Alt 13. When I saw the turn lanes blocked I figured out it was a DUI stop. So the only thing I could do was wait. And wait. And wait.

When it was my turn I rolled up next to an officer who announced to me he was from Georgetown. He also said they were checking for DUI and seat belt violations. I had neither, so they let me through. At this point I contacted my son letting know I was going to be arriving late.

I don’t have a problem with DUI stops. I’m sure they probably get some violators while inconveniencing those of us that obey the law. People that drive under the influence are a public danger. On the other end of the spectrum are the seat belt violators. When was the last time you were afraid of driving on the road with someone who was not belted into their car? Did you mother ever warn you about being out late because there were people on the road not wearing their seat belt?

The seat belt laws annoy me to no end. This is a zero-tolerance law. If you are seen without your belt on, you are stopped and given a ticket. There is no grace. In addition, if I don’t wear my seat belt, I am the person hurt by my actions if I am involved in an accident. Let’s contrast this with a violation that could harm drivers or pedestrians around me: speeding.

Speeding is a very big problem in our area. You drive at 55 on Route 13 and count the cars that blast by you. Sadly I have seen no aggressive enforcement of those laws. In contrast, how many of us have not heard “click it or ticket”? I’ve wondered if it’s easier to sound tough on seat belts than to enforce the speed limit laws. I’ve been the victim of a driver exceeding the speed limit, loosing control, then crashing into my car knocking me off the road. Believe me, it’s no fun.

I have an idea that might be a help to reduce the high rates of speed. It parallels the DUI checkpoints and might dampen the excessive rates of speed on our roads. I’ll call it a speed checkpoint. DUI checkpoints are manned by state and local police. The speed checkpoints can be manned in the same fashion. Speed checkpoints would need to be spread over a larger area, such as a 7 to 10 mile range. Two officers are placed every 2-3 miles with radar guns. It would net a large amount of speeders in the second and third stops as most habitual speeders will speed up after passing an officer who has stopped a vehicle. If this is applied several times at the same location it would discourage drivers from speeding there.

This is not a post of criticism of our state and local police officers. Our Laurel police officers have been great and responsive to our families’ needs. It is a voice of frustration as well as a voice offering possible solutions to this growing problem.

Let me end this post with a note of praise. Over the last week, the Laurel Police have been set up on Georgetown Road between North Laurel Elementary and the Block stopping speeders. It appears they have been there every day this week at varying times pulling over violators, bringing that area under control. To our Laurel officers, thank you very much.

  1. Howard says:

    Your are right about the seatbelt laws. Several years ago I got a ticket in Delmar Maryland from a Maryland State Trooper for not having my seat belt on. No warning ticket, just right to a ticket with a fine. I had at that time been driving for over 40 years and not received a ticket for anything, so I decided to go to court and see if I could have it reduced to a warning. If I paid the ticket before going to court it would have cost $25. I went to court, waited while the judge reduced speed violations for speeders etc, when it came my turn and I asked for a reduction he said no way. So I not only had to pay the $25 ticket but than court costs were added to it. The point being, is 40 years of good driving means nothing on a seat belt violation but speeding is an acceptable violation to reduce the fine of in Maryland.