2017-06-16 / Community

Hundreds of cars screened at DUI checkpoints, one arrest made

Despite rise in spending, fatalities and DUI on the rise
By Hector Gonzalez


EYE ON THE ROAD— Police stopped over 400 vehicles during back-to-back checkpoints in Camarillo earlier this month and arrested one person on suspicion of driving drunk. EYE ON THE ROAD— Police stopped over 400 vehicles during back-to-back checkpoints in Camarillo earlier this month and arrested one person on suspicion of driving drunk. Deputies screened more than 400 vehicles during back-to-back checkpoints in Camarillo earlier this month and arrested one person on suspicion of driving drunk.

Of the 431 vehicles checked during the six-hour enforcement between 9 p.m. June 3 and 3 a.m. June 4, four drivers without valid licenses were ticketed, said Sgt. Sean Britt of the Camarillo Police Department traffic unit.

“The best checkpoints are where we don’t have any DUI arrests,” Britt said, adding that fewer arrests mean “that people are getting the message” about not driving impaired.

Checkpoints were set up between 9 p.m. and midnight June 3 at Las Posas Road and Camino La Madera, and from 12:23 to 2:30 a.m. June 4 at Pleasant Valley Road and Village Commons Boulevard, Britt said in a news release.

Although no drug-impaired motorists were found during the checks, drug use by drivers is a serious and growing problem statewide, he said, adding that conducting regular DUI checkpoints has been shown to deter impaired driving.

The checkpoints are funded locally by a grant from the state Office of Traffic Safety,

Camarillo police plan more DUI checkpoints in August at undisclosed locations, Britt said.

Despite millions spent by the state on the problem, DUI traffic deaths keep going up year after year.

In 2015, for example, the Office of Traffic Safety distributed more than $102 million—a record amount for the state agency—in traffic safety grants to local agencies, including more than $22 million to fight alcohol- and drugimpaired driving.

Still, traffic fatalities went up by 2.4 percent from 2014 to 2015, and alcohol-impaired traffic fatalities went from 876 in 2014 to 914 in 2015, a 4.3 percent increase. Of the 3,176 traffic fatalities recorded in 2015, 28.8 percent involved impaired drivers, up from 28.2 percent in 2014.

In 2010, 774 people died in California in crashes involving impaired drivers; in 2015, the number increased to 914 deaths.

Nationwide, according to the 2013-14 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration National Roadside Survey, 22.5 percent of weekend nighttime drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drugs that could cause driving impairment. More than 15 percent tested positive for illicit drugs, and more than 12 percent tested positive for THC, marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, a 47 percent increase from the NHTSA’s 2007 survey.

Brett said drivers who take prescription drugs, particularly those with a label warning against driving or operating machinery, might be impaired enough to get a DUI. Drivers caught impaired by prescription drugs can expect a DUI arrest, jail time, fines, fees, DUI classes, license suspension and other expenses that can exceed $10,000, the sergeant said.

Before they head out for an evening of dinner and drinks, Brett said, residents can download the Designated Driver VIP, or “DDVIP,” free mobile app for Android and iPhone.

The app helps find nearby bars and restaurants that feature incentives for the designated driver, including free nonalcoholic drinks and free appetizers. The app also has a tab to call Uber, Lyft or Curb for a ride home if a designated driver is not available.

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