The number of fatal car crashes in West Virginia are down, and authorities there are attributing the waning statistics to targeting enforcement (think DUI checkpoints, seat belt enforcement, child restraint enforcement, and the like). There were 271 fatalities in 240 car crashes last year, which is way down from 2013, when law enforcement officials reported 332 fatalities in 305 crashes. And that targeted enforcement? Those details are thanks largely to grant money West Virginia state police and other law enforcement agencies received from the Governor’s Highway Safety Program.
Police acknowledge there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to statistics, but emphasized there was a definite relationship between the increased police presence on the road and the decrease in fatal crashes and associated crime. West Virginia’s recent success with reducing fatal crashes seems to also back up recent research that indicates the best DUI deterrent is increased patrols. One study, titled, “The Relationship of Impaired-Driving Enforcement Intensity to Drinking and Driving on the Roads” was published recently in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, and concluded that the number of traffic stops and DUI arrests was closely related to the odds of people there drinking and driving.
As a criminal defense lawyer who has handled the DUI defense for many Morgantown clients, I see every single day how devastating drunken driving cases can be – to both the driver and associated victims. I applaud the West Virginia State Police for continuing to proactively improve our highway safety statistics. However, I wouldn’t be worth my salt as a criminal defense lawyer who regularly handles DUI defense if I didn’t mention that all drivers should, in light of all these targeted traffic stops, be aware of their rights when they come upon a sobriety checkpoint (or something like it). Know the law and know your rights – and if you still need a criminal defense lawyer, give me a call.