As a Birmingham DUI defense lawyer, I have noted how much funding is going toward traffic safety campaigns, which includes drunk driving enforcement. Much of these funds go for increased patrols looking to catch Alabama drivers allegedly operating their vehicles under the influence of alcohol. Millions of dollars are provided by the federal government to the state every year to combat DUI violations. While I commend our police and law enforcement agencies for making our streets and highways safer, I sometimes question how these monies are used, and whether innocent motorists are harassed by drunk driving patrols and sobriety checkpoints.
According to a news article, Alabama has targeted eight counties for highway traffic safety enforcement over the coming 12 months. Governor Riley awarded $4.1 million in grants to fund highway safety programs around the state including campaigns named “Drunken Driving. Over the Limit, Under Arrest,” and “Click it or Ticket.” The state has focused the funding on eight of Alabama's sixty-seven counties and has based this, in part, on those areas' tendency toward higher rates of traffic accidents, injuries and fatalities.
According to reports, Alabama is expecting an increase in the number of DUI arrests now and into 2010. Statistics from the Highway Safety Department demonstrate that there are more drunk driving arrests around holidays, while reckless driving appears to be more of a problem on Wednesday through Saturday.
The grant monies reportedly go towards equipment, education and paid overtime for officers. New articles indicate that the educational aspect of these programs is making a difference, as there is a marked shift downwards in the incidences of drunk driving arrests and a rise in the number of people wearing their seatbelts when those educational campaigns are in full swing.
The counties receiving funds include Autauga, Bullock, Elmore, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Montgomery and Russell.
Start of Semester Spike in DUI Arrests, ThePlainsman.com, September 30, 2009