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A Friday Night at an L.A. County DUI Checkpoint

Spending a Friday night at an L.A. County DUI checkpoint can dispel a lot of wrong information about these attempts to lower drunk driving. The Agoura Hills Patch did just that a few Fridays ago. The DUI checkpoint was set up at the corner of Kanan Road and Thousand Oaks Boulevard in Agoura Hills on August 5, 2011. Members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department manned the checkpoint. According to court cases, police cannot indiscriminately set up a DUI checkpoint at a random location to surprise motorists. The location must be an area where there has been a high prevalence of drunken driving. According to Sgt. Philip Brooks, Agoura Hills is one such area.

The intent of the checkpoints is to put out the message that drunk driving will not be tolerated in the state of California. Deputies stop random cars and ask for the motorist's driver's licenses and ask questions about sobriety. If there is a problem, the driver is asked to step out of the car, and further investigation can lead to a DUI charge or citation for other motor vehicle violations. Detective Richard Curry believes that the DUI checkpoints are a good deterrent for drunk driving. "These are good education tools to remind the public about drinking and driving," said Curry. In addition, "it causes bar owners to be more responsible in serving their customers." Curry notes that DUI accidents have become less frequent since the institution of checkpoints.

Usually checkpoints yield only one or two DUI arrests, although one recent checkpoint had six arrests. But arrests are not really the point of the stops. The point is to make people aware of the checkpoints so that they modify their behavior about drinking and driving. Police hope the driver out for dinner who has heard that a DUI checkpoint is in the area will forego that third drink with dinner for fear of getting arrested.

The Sheriff's Department aims for stops of no more than three to five minutes. If traffic starts to back up, they waive more cars through. The quickest way to get through? Have your driver's license ready to present, and the officers say you will proceed quickly. As long as you are not over the limit.