Jamie Satterfield has been writing some blog post about emotions, politics and opinions driving laws and interpretation of their effectiveness, rather than facts and logic. Read two posts here and here. She talks about passing laws by having people bring framed pictures of their loved on.
That was seen earlier this month in Blount County government. A lady held up a picture of her mother during the Commission meeting while talking about the DUI roadblock grant. This tugs at heart strings. Losing a loved one to a drunk driver is inexcusable but the rights of people who don’t drink and drive should not be infringed upon because there are careless people in the world. Enforcement of criminal laws should be directed at the people breaking the laws not the people who abide by the laws.
During the Commission meeting the Assistant DA, Ryan Desmond, said that the enforcement actions paid for with the federal grants were effective but the statistics he gave don’t support his statement.
He gave three years of statistics for impaired driving arrest in Blount County: 2012: 392, 2013: 341, 2014: 322. He also stated impaired conviction rates had increased from 76.9% in 2010 to 88.9% in 2014.
I called him and asked for more information. The numbers he provided show that impaired driving convictions rates fluctuated widely from 2010 to 2014. 2014 (88.9%), 2013 (81.4%), 2012 (84.8%), 2011 (82.9%), 2010 (76.9%)
He didn’t know when the Blount County Sheriff’s Office began conducting roadblocks. Thus, I have to wonder how he could say that roadblocks are working without having a starting point to measure from.
According to the data provided by the Governors Highway Safety Office traffic fatalities started decreasing with the economic recession in 2008. This includes a significant drop statewide in alcohol impaired fatalities from 2008-2012 compared to previous years. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics show that traffic fatalities have been dropping nationwide and that just like Tennessee the drop started in 2008.
This decline in fatalities is likely due to people having less money to spend and thereby driving less. Discretionary driving decreases when you are pinching pennies to put food on the table. Less driving usually means less accidents. Statistics suggests that the economy has lead to a significant decreases in traffic fatalities in recent years, not the unconstitutional enforcement campaigns.