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Friday, July 19, 2013

DUI Checkpoint Coming to a Car Near You

Posted By on Fri, Jul 19, 2013 at 3:46 PM

click to enlarge NICK.FISHER/FLICKR
  • Nick.Fisher/flickr

If you're dumb enough to guzzle a bottle of vodka before getting in the car, just know the San Francisco Police Department will be saving a place in jail for you. The cops are reminding everyone that there will be a DUI checkpoint somewhere within the city on Saturday night.

The checkpoint is scheduled to be in action from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. -- peak chugging hours.

Officer Albie Esparza says the department won't release the mysterious location of this sobriety checkpoint until tomorrow evening, about two hours before the heavy-duty enforcement starts.

Best you check Twitter when you are at the bar and hope someone you're "following" posts the location for you. That's too bad, since the cops typically give drivers a heads-up as to where police will be stationed for sobriety checkpoints, at least 24 hours in advance.

"There is no legal ruling that says [checkpoints] have to be publicized," says Chris Cochran, spokesman for the California Office of Traffic Safety, referring to a state supreme court ruling from 1993.

However, the OTS stipulates that in order for counties across the state to be eligible for funding to finance these checkpoints, as well as saturation patrols, the agencies must publicize news of the checkpoints in advance. But Cochran says it's up to the individual law enforcement agencies to decide if they want to tell drivers in advance the exact location of the checkpoint. The whole point is the scare motorists into not driving drunk, not to deter motorists only in a certain part of town.

He says saturation patrols, where extra officers are deployed specifically to monitor roadways looking for drunk drivers, create more arrests and are more efficient, but checkpoints are there to get the word out about how dangerous drunk driving is.

While the numbers fluctuate from year-to-year, Cochran estimates the federal government allocates between $70 to $80 million to California annually for checkpoints and patrols.

But the fuzz says there' not need to fret. Just make sure you designate a driver and you can get as hammered as you want.

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Joseph Geha


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