Wednesday, March 25, 2009

If it's Friday, it's checkpoint time - but what kind of checkpoint?

One of the blogs I follow goes by various names, but in essence the most accurate name is the name that is printed in the title area - the Inland Empire Crime Blog.

Last weekend, the blog had two separate posts about checkpoints that were held on Friday, March 20 - one in Coachella (a town southeast of Palm Springs) and one in San Bernardino.

First, in Coachella:

The City of Coachella conducted a DUI Checkpoint on Avenue 49 at Grapefruit Blvd on 3/20/09. The checkpoint was in operation between the hours of 7:00 P.M. and 2:00 A.M. A total of (1600) vehicles passed through the checkpoint during this operation and 1300 vehicles were screened.

Four people were arrested and booked for various crimes. Their names are in the blog post.

In addition:

The checkpoint personnel cited (26) drivers for the following vehicle violations:

1) (3) for driving on a suspended drivers license
2) (15) for driving without a drivers license
3) (8) hazardous equipment violation
4) (18) vehicles were towed

Meanwhile, in San Bernardino,

Traffic Sgt R. Lawhead explains that the San Bernardino Police Department conducted a DUI/Drivers License checkpoint on Friday, March 20, 2009 from 6:00 PM to 2:00 AM, in the 600 block of West Highland Avenue, in San Bernardino. During this operation a total of 842 vehicles were screened. A total 36 vehicles were impounded, 28 of which were held for 30 days. Officers wrote 46 citations, 37 of which were for unlicensed or suspended licensed drivers. There were also a total of 5 arrests on various charges.

The San Bernardino press release also took time to explain why they think DUI checkpoints are important:

DUI checkpoints are conducted to identify offenders and get them off the street, as well as educate the public on the dangers of impaired driving.

All too often, members of our community are senselessly injured or killed on local roadways by impaired drivers. This DUI/Drivers License checkpoint is an effort to reduce those tragedies, as well as insuring drivers have a valid driver’s license. A major component of these checkpoints is to increase awareness of the dangers of impaired driving and to encourage sober designated drivers.

A DUI checkpoint is a proven effective method for achieving this goal. By publicizing these enforcement and education efforts, the San Bernardino Police Department believes motorists can be deterred from drinking and driving.

As I've said before, however, most of the people who get in trouble at DUI checkpoints don't get in trouble for DUI. Even when you look at the four people who were arrested in Coachella, one was arrested on a weapons charge. While I'm not arguing that people engaging in criminal acts should run free, perhaps the "DUI checkpoint" is not named properly.

Your thoughts?

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