Editorial: Safe roads trump business concernsWe can sympathize with business owners who are worried about customers staying away, but it’s police officers’ job to keep drunk drivers off the road
At a Rosemount Police Department citizen’s academy a few years ago, a police officer explained the department’s approach to DUI enforcement stops. Statistics, he said, suggest that one in seven drivers on the road after midnight has a blood alcohol level over the legal limit for driving. That’s why police who work the late shift tend to stop every car they have a legitimate reason to stop.
Better to let a driver off with a warning for a minor violation, he said, than leave a drunk driver on the road.
That is exactly the behavior that has a group of downtown bar owners and managers concerned. They came to a city council workshop last week to complain about what they called excessive traffic stops around closing time. Customers and employees alike were being stopped for seemingly minor violations like burned-out license plate lights or items hanging from their rearview mirrors.
We can appreciate the bar owners’ frustration. They say the traffic stops are hurting business. People would rather go to another city to drink, they say, than risk running the gauntlet of police in Rosemount. Some say they might have to close if things don’t get better.
It’s an unfortunate circumstance, but it’s also a sign that what police are doing is working. If there are fewer drunk drivers on the road in Rosemount, the city’s residents are safer. That’s a good thing. And Rosemount police have been making arrests, including some employees at the bars that have been complaining.
It seems unlikely enforcement efforts will change in the near future, and we don’t believe they should. We hope all of Rosemount’s businesses can find ways to succeed, but not at the cost of safe roads.