Police will stop announcing DUI checkpoint locations

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Editor’s note: This article was reprinted with permission from KOCI radio.


COSTA MESA — The Police Department will no longer announce the locations of drunk driving checkpoints, starting with


a checkpoint from 6 p.m. to midnight Monday.

“We no longer issue press releases stating the upcoming checkpoint locations in order to add to the deterrent factor to keep people from driving under the influence,” said Sgt. Dave Makiyama.

He explained that the previous policy of “naming the locations ahead of time” meant “those that listen or read about our checkpoints can plan to steer clear of the area with little fear of apprehension.”

Tom Wallin, writing for the American Law Academy, states: “California courts have concluded that sobriety checkpoints are generally not considered unreasonable searches [under the 4th Amendment] because they are not intended to arrest drivers but rather to promote public safety.”

“The checkpoints are to educate the public about the dangers of DUI and deter it,” Makiyama said. “Should a DUI come through the checkpoint, obviously we want to remove them from the road.”

A 1993 California Supreme Court decision, People v. Banks, ruled that the police were not required to provide advance notice when scheduling DUI sobriety checkpoints as a prerequisite for a sobriety checkpoint. The court ruled that publicly announcing the location is not constitutionally required, but is one of several safeguards for “the maintenance of a constitutionally permissible sobriety checkpoint.”

“Hopefully, those that do learn of our checkpoints will question if they will be drinking and driving in the vicinity of a checkpoint and make good decisions about their rides,” Makiyama said. “In a perfect world we would not have a DUI problem, and checkpoints and saturation patrols would be a waste of time. Until then we will continue trying to keep the streets safe.”

Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer is critical of the traffic delays and points out that most DUI arrests occur later at night. Righeimer said the 6 p.m. to midnight timing was chosen for the end of a shift to give police officers extra overtime pay, which is paid by the federal government.

A KOCI News count from police press releases earlier this year for a previous report on DUI checkpoints showed a DUI arrest rate of about one-fifth of 1% of traffic stopped at the DUI checkpoints.

“They’ve backed off their previous claims and now just say it’s for education,” Righeimer said.

The funding for the Costa Mesa checkpoints is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, which in turn received the money from the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.