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Police Wrap Up Another Traffic Safety Operation In Santa Monica

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By Hector Gonzalez
Special to The Lookout

February 26, 2016 -- Santa Monica police took a suspected drunk driver off the streets while screening more than 300 vehicles at a recent sobriety checkpoint, one of seven traffic safety crackdowns since the first of the year.

At the checkpoint this past Saturday, February 19, conducted in the 2600 block of north Main Street, 19 drivers suspected of being impaired were asked to undergo field sobriety tests, usually administered by officers specially trained officers in spotting signs of intoxication, said Sgt. Rudy Camarena, spokesman for the Santa Monica Police Department.

“Drivers, who were selected at random, were directed into the screening area where officers checked their license status and sobriety,” said Camarena in a news release.

Two drivers were cited for getting behind the wheel with suspended or revoked license during the operation, which went from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., he said. It was the department's first vehicle checkpoint of the year.

Police have conducted five bicycle-pedestrian safety enforcement operations since January 7.

Those crackdowns, in which officers concentrate their efforts mainly on certain corners with higher than typical reports of bikes and pedestrians colliding with cars and trucks, came shortly after Santa Monica's new Breeze bike rental program went City-wide in November.

Police also have focused on thwarting under-age drinking through “shoulder tap” operations, stationing supervised and monitored underage decoys in front of liquor stores to ask adult to buy them alcohol.

In the most recent shoulder tap crackdown, decoy teams visited four alcohol retailers and made a total of 33 “contacts,” said Camarena.

No violations occurred, he added.

“The goal is to reduce substance abuse and enhance community welfare by limiting underage access to alcohol,” said Camarena.

The shoulder tap program, like the bike and pedestrian enforcement and sobriety checkpoint, is funded primarily through grants from the state Office of Traffic Safety, he said.

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