The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

September 26, 2012
Sacramento gets more cash to conduct DUI checkpoints
Drunken drivers beware. One major law enforcement tool will continue in Sacramento.

The City Council is set Thursday evening to accept a $240,900 grant from the state Office of Traffic Safety to conduct 24 DUI checkpoints between Oct. 1 and Sept. 30, 2013.

Similar grants have enabled the police department to continue the checkpoints, despite budget cuts that have led the department to disband its traffic enforcement unit, among others.

As I explored in California Forum earlier this month, Sacramento has a big problem with DUI. It has the highest rate of deaths and injuries in alcohol-related collisions of any of California's 13 largest cities. It also has among the highest rates of DUI arrests.

In 2010, alcohol was a factor in 10 percent of all crashes, but more than 30 percent of fatalities in collisions.

One of the eye-opening facts is how many drunken drivers are caught in these checkpoints, even though they are announced in advance. Police publicize them to avoid constitutional problems with illegal search and seizure because every vehicle is stopped, whether there is probable cause or not.

The checkpoints are only one strategy to reduce DUIs.

As The Bee's editorial board said, the solution could also lie in tougher laws targeting repeat offenders and more effective and available counseling and treatment programs. Bars need to train staff to avoid serving intoxicated customers.

But it also comes down to us -- making sure we have designated drivers and keeping tipsy friends and relatives from getting behind the wheel.

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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