Checkpoint a good start, by more deterrents needed

For the first time at USF, there was a DUI checkpoint on campus. From 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. on Saturday, officers from several local law enforcement agencies assisted University Police in stopping 47 cars. Five citations for minor traffic violations, such as failure to carry a driver’s license, were issued. No drunk drivers were caught.

The checkpoint itself is a good idea, regardless of its lack of measurable success. Upon hearing of an on-campus checkpoint, untold numbers of students may have called a friend, for instance, and asked for a ride due to fear of being caught by the police. Public knowledge of DUI enforcement by police is never a bad thing, and the police department should be lauded for its activity and awareness: If even one life was saved Saturday, it was all worth it.

However, even if the police continue to take intelligent steps to stop drunk drivers, the problem will remain. Provided that drunk drivers continue to have their vehicles, they probably won’t stop driving drunk even if their licenses are taken away. Therefore, they will continue to put innocent lives at risk.

The answer, it seems, is to take offenders’ vehicles away. Law enforcement already does this in many cases, but the idea isn’t to temporarily seize vehicles and put them into impound. The vehicles should become state property. In using those vehicles to commit a crime, the owners have surrendered their right to them. The proceeds from the confiscated vehicles could be used to fund the police department.

It’s not as draconian a solution as it sounds. If the fact that drunk drivers were going to lose their vehicles was advertised, much like the 10-20-Life minimum prison sentences are, it may very well persuade that drunk driver to call up a taxi service. It’s better to spend $50 on a cab ride than to lose $5,000 because one gets caught.

This would also be progressive punishment. Jail time costs taxpayers money. Taking away an offender’s car and turning it into state property would save taxpayer money and make recidivism highly unlikely. More drunk drivers could be sentenced to treatment instead of jail, and the police departments would benefit from the windfall of money that would result from the sales of the confiscated property.

Driving is a privilege. If that privilege is not respected, it should be taken away – both legally when licenses are suspended, as well as physically when the vehicles themselves are commandeered.