Do Twitter & Facebook Help Keep You Out of DUI School?

by: Mike Miller

Is it just me or does social media seem to be taking over life? Granted I have a Facebook account and have many friends. I use my Facebook page not so much to post photos of myself or detail my day-to-day life, but to congregate with former students and continue to promote alcohol awareness, drug awareness, and the need to continue our efforts to educate and heal.

Interestingly, as invasive as social media seems to have become, there is one place it never had occurred to me - DUI checkpoints. Of course when I was a heavy drinker, putting my life, and the lives of everyone else on the line, I would have loved to have known where these checkpoints would be. I would definitely have changed my evening plans of I had been supplied with that information.

Police put a lot of time and thought into their DUI checkpoints. Many of my students received a DUI at a checkpoint. Police set them up on Friday and Saturday nights. They redouble their efforts on New Year's Eve.

The police now have a stronger enemy in the people -- the people who are using social media to warn others that this particular Friday or Saturday night has been selected for special drunk-driving checking.

Have you heard of this? I will discuss this subject further in next week’s blog.

At first, it seems that police were a little bemused by the very idea that people wouldn't want other people to be caught be the police.

Now, however, some police forces have decided to use more sprightly tactics to ensnare those who are unwise enough to imbibe and drive.

Is it possible that big checkpoints may be on the way out?

They're too obvious, take too long to set up and word travels too quickly, as they're so often located on busy roads -- on the shooting-fish-in-barrel principle.

Now, some police forces say they are using roads less traveled and even setting up in the middle of the week in order to catch their quota.

The AP quoted Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, as saying: "Social media cuts both ways. It can be a good tool to inform the public about what's going on, and it also can be used to undermine enforcement efforts."

But is informing others on Facebook and Twitter that the police are out in force truly undermining enforcement efforts? Or does it, in fact, show a peculiar form of solidarity that isn't always evident in other aspects of social life?

It's quite common for people to keep themselves to themselves. Caring for one's fellow human isn't always such a natural impulse, as the debate over universal health care often shows.

Perhaps there's something about DUI checkpoints that people find essentially unfair (which doesn't mean they're unnecessary, of course).

Perhaps there's also that element of so many knowing they are there, but for the grace of Facebook and Twitter, go they.

It's almost as if there is some unspoken understanding that we should all be allowed to party a little, given life's gamut of tribulations.

Yes, we shouldn't get behind the wheel when we drink, but many seem to be saying that it would be a shame if we were actually caught doing so.