800 Motorists Stopped in La Palma Drinking Crackdown

Times Staff Writer

More than 800 motorists were stopped in La Palma this weekend in a crackdown on drunk driving conducted by police officers from four cities.

It was the third jointly run “sobriety checkpoint” in three months. It resulted in 13 drivers being given sobriety tests, two arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and five cited for alcohol-related offenses, La Palma Sgt. Mike Sellers reported.

But in addition to getting drunk drivers off the road, the purpose of the random stops is educational, Sellers said. Every driver stopped was given literature and statistics on the peril of mixing driving and alcohol.

“The main thing is to educate people to reduce drunk driving,” he said.


Cars Halted at Random

At 10 p.m. Friday, officers from Seal Beach, Cypress and Los Alamitos joined forces with La Palma officers to set up a roadblock along Orangethorpe Avenue between Valley View and Walker streets. They stopped cars at random and sometimes administered field sobriety tests, Sellers said. The crackdown ended at 2 a.m. Saturday.

Sellers said Orangethorpe was targeted because traffic statistics show that the street has the highest number of drink-related traffic accidents in La Palma.

The police agencies began working together on a drunk-driving program in May, he said.


“To share the cost of manpower,” he said, the sobriety checkpoint will rotate from city to city each month.

The first checkpoint was in Los Alamitos in May, the next in Seal Beach in June. One is scheduled for Cypress sometime in August, Sellers said.

Sellers, who worked the first jointly run checkpoint in May, said officers stopped about 800 motorists that time too.

Though many motorists were sharply critical of such traffic stops when sobriety checkpoints began around the state in 1984, most motorists now react favorably to being stopped, Sellers said.


Motorists Thanked Officers

At that first checkpoint in Los Alamitos, he said, “the officers were commenting they received thank yous” from motorists.

“We’ve come to the point where sobriety is really important,” he said.