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Santa Monica Police to Conduct DUI Checkpoint Friday

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By Lookout Staff

September 4, 2015 -- Santa Monica police are ushering in the long Labor Day weekend with a DUI checkpoint at an undisclosed location in the city this Friday from 7 p.m. until 3 a.m., police announced.

Traffic officers will check for signs of alcohol or drug impairment and also determine whether drivers are using valid licenses, said Santa Monica Police Department Sgt. Rudy Camarena.

Checkpoints are routinely rolled out in Santa Monica and other municipalities around holidays, although they are staged at other times as well. Officers can screen hundreds of drivers during the overnight operations. 

In March, for instance, Santa Monica officers announced they had checked 284 vehicles during a checkpoint and administered 40 field sobriety checks.  Two motorists were arrested on suspicion of DUI, while four others were cited for not having valid driver’s licenses.

Police impounded two vehicles as well, officials reported.

Camarena said DUI checkpoints have been proven to help reduce the number of persons killed and injured in alcohol and drug related collisions. Research has shown that accidents involving impaired drivers can be cut by up to 20 percent when well-publicized checkpoints are conducted, Camarena said.

In California, DUIs led to the deaths of 802 people in 2012, the last year for which statistics are available, according to State officials.  Nationally, the latest data shows nearly 10,000 were killed by an impaired driver.

Authorities said many of the fatalities could have been prevented simply by choosing a designated driver. Alcohol and drug-impaired deaths are linked to nearly 30 percent of overall vehicle fatalities, they said.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), checkpoints have provided the most effective documented results of any of the DUI enforcement efforts.

They have also proven cost effective, yielding $6 for every $1 spent, officials said. Nearly 90 percent of California Drivers approve of DUI checkpoints, Camarena said.

Drivers arrested for DUI face jail time, fines, fees, DUI classes and other expenses that can exceed $10,000, officials said.

California spent more than $98 million on highway safety programs in 2013, including more than $24 million on grants to police agencies for programs like DUI checkpoints, state authorities said.

Funding came from the federal Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, which provided more than $105 billion for surface transportation projects nationwide.

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