The holiday season, beginning at Thanksgiving and continuing until after the first of the year, is a dangerous time of year. It’s party season, and that means more people will drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Therefore, it’s also high-visibility enforcement season.
It may seem counterintuitive to advertise enforcement activities, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the visibility works to increase the deterrent effect. Whenever the perceived risk of getting caught goes up, the rate of illegal behavior goes down.
In addition to sobriety checkpoints, high-visibility enforcement strategies often include:
Saturation patrols — an increased number of officers in a targeted area who are visibly stopping vehicles. Part of the strategy is for the increased enforcement to be obvious to the public.
Wave enforcement — targeting a specific traffic violation (DUI, speeding) in a specific location for a short period of time. For example, conducting waves of speeding enforcement for a few hours around a special event or for a limited time.
Multi-jurisdictional efforts — coordinated efforts between different police agencies, such as the Chattanooga PD, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, the state patrol and non-traditional agencies such as campus police or park police. When resources are combined in this way, it increases the public’s perceived risk of being caught, which improves deterrence.
Regardless of which enforcement technique is being used, publicity and visibility are key elements of high-visibility enforcement. The publicity typically includes messages about increased enforcement and cooperation between law enforcement agencies. In addition, electronic signs, billboards, pop-up road signs and other signage is generally used to ensure that the public is well aware of what is going on.
If you’re planning to drink this holiday season, arrange for a safe ride home. If your plans fail, however, and you are arrested for DUI, be sure to contact an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible.