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Echoes and Mirrors» Blog Archive » MADD loses this battle

MADD loses this battle

TUCSON, Ariz. — Drunken Arizona drivers with the late-night munchies may soon be getting more than chicken strips at drive-through windows.

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department has a new campaign targeting drunken driving. Operation Would U Like Fries, or Operation WULF, will put undercover deputies inside 24-hour fast-food restaurants to spot impaired drivers placing their orders.

Sgt. Doug Hanna, a DUI unit supervisor, says if deputies notice someone with classic symptoms of impairment — slurred speech, red or watery eyes or beer breath — they will have a uniformed deputy stationed outside pull the driver over.

Hanna says money for the intermittent program is coming from a $128,000 grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

Which sort of triggered my sense of disgust for the government for a moment. Until economics kicked in, leading to this:

TUCSON, Ariz. — A plan by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department that would have stationed deputies at fast-food joints to sniff out drunken drivers appears to have fallen flat.

The department had hoped to target drunken driving by putting undercover deputies inside 24-hour fast-food restaurants to spot impaired drivers placing their orders. If deputies spotted someone with classic symptoms of impairment, they were to call a uniformed deputy stationed outside to pull the driver over.

But sheriff’s Lt. Karl Woolridge says the department asked various fast-food chains if they’d agree to be a part of the program, but all of them declined.

Money for the program would have come from a $128,000 grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety for fiscal year 2008-2009. The grant funds sobriety checkpoints and other anti-drunken-driving programs.

Upon realizing that they were about to alienate a significant portion of their customer base as well as give rise to boycotts, said restaurants backed out. I am quite amused by their sticking to rational decision-making. I am deeply saddened by how much fear-mongering, lawsuits, internet rumours about national fast-food sting operations and corporate apologizing we will all miss out on.

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