Mar

29

DUI Suspect Arrested After Giving the Finger to a Police Officer

By Mike

An alleged drunk driver in California last week committed one of the cardinal sins of drinking and driving: showing a nearby police officer a certain middle digit.

Carlos Ruano, a resident of Sylmar, California reportedly drove by a police deputy in his Ford F-150 in a reckless manner and impolitely extended his middle finger in the officer’s direction, according to a report from SCV News.

Sources indicate that Ruano was “cutting in and out of traffic” down state highway 14 when he nearly rear-ended an unmarked police vehicle. To add to his questionable decision-making, Ruano then flipped off the officer.

According to the police report, which offers a nice summary of the incident, “[t]he pick up truck approached the deputy’s vehicle from the rear, the plain wrapped vehicle, and almost struck it. When he went by the deputy he ended up flipping off the deputy.”

Of course, the officer didn’t pursue Ruano simply because he insulted them. He also continued driving erratically after almost striking the car.

So, after the officer was rear-ended, he continued to pursue Ruano as he was traveling southbound on the highway, and called for assistance from the California Highway Patrol.

However, before the Highway Patrol was able to arrive, another nearby deputy in a marked vehicle joined the other officer in the pursuit of Ruano. After they fired their emergency lights, sources indicate that a dangerous chase ensued.

Sources say that the alleged DUI driver started to flee from the two deputies at speeds reaching as fast as 85 miles per hour through dangerously large amounts of traffic.

However, once officers from the California Highway Patrol appeared ready to join the chase, the suspect recognized that his situation was untenable, and he wisely pulled over to the side of the road.

According to the police report, Ruano “was taken into custody for fleeing police officers using a motor vehicle. He’s also been arrested under suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.” If convicted on both charges, Ruano could face some serious time in jail.

The charge for evading police officers is a serious felony offense, punishable by jail time and significant fines. But the DUI charge is no small allegation, either, as it could also lead to extra jail time, additional fines, and the loss of his license.

And, hopefully, Ruano learned some important lessons during his ordeal. Don’t drink and drive, and if you do, don’t flip off police officers and lead them on a high-speed chase.

Mar

27

Five-Word Police Report About Cop’s DUI Arrest Raises Suspicions

By Mike

A brief, five-word police report about a police officer’s DUI arrest has raised suspicions in a town where lengthy police reports are apparently the norm, according to a report from The Post and Courier, a newspaper in Charleston, South Carolina.

Sources indicate that Mount Pleasant, South Carolina police officer, Major Frank Riccio, was recently arrested for drunk driving after failing a field sobriety test following a car accident on U.S. Highway 17 in Georgetown County, South Carolina.

The incident gained a good deal of local attention, both because it was the arrest of a police officer, and because a dashboard camera in one of the responding officer’s vehicles captured the arrest on film.

However, sources suggest that an incident report filed by police after Riccio’s arrest was oddly terse, claiming only that a “subject” was “arrested for DUI refusal.” Those five words represented the only statement by police on the arrest.

But, according to The Post and Courier, most police agencies in that part of South Carolina routinely document a suspect’s behavior during the arrest with some degree of detail.

In addition, DUI police reports in South Carolina usually give some details on how the suspect performs during a field sobriety test, what language he uses with the police, and whether there were any other external signs of drunkenness, like slurred speech or reduced motor skills.

In fact, sources say that recent reports for DUI arrests by police departments in Mount Pleasant and Charleston usually include hundreds of words and several pages of prose on each incident.

Anecdotally, one Mount Pleasant police officer even went so far as to record a suspected drunk driver’s claim that he had been celebrating an event at Wild Wing, a local restaurant, in a routine police report.

And, in other incident in Charleston, a reporting officer observed that an inebriated man kept repeating the phrase, “I’m just trying to ho home,” and the officer also noted that the suspect’s mother told police her son had been drinking straight from a bottle of vodka.

According to Bill Rogers, the executive director of the S.C. Press Association, it is “a little strange that their procedures differ that dramatically.” He also observed that there “seems like there should be more to” the report related to Riccio’s arrest.

In response to these claims, local police, through a spokesman, have admitted that their report on Riccio was “insufficient.” This admission, however, may not slow the media’s outrage over perceived favoritism shown towards the arrested police officer.

Mar

26

Drunk Tow Truck Driver Responds to DUI Accident Scene in Montana

By Mike

In an incident that may support some (probably unfair) stereotypes about Montana, a tow truck driver allegedly responded to an accident caused by a drunk driver while under the influence of alcohol himself.

Police in Butte, Montana reportedly arrested 58-year-old tow truck driver David Banks after he allegedly responded to the scene of a DUI accident while under the influence of alcohol, according to a report from the Montana Standard.

The police already had a bit of practice arresting drunk drivers that night, as they had already arrested 44-year-old Penny Mormon for allegedly crashing her car while drunk into four other vehicles on Gaylord Street in Butte. This accident took place around 1 a.m. last Friday.

While Mormon may face serious felony charges for causing the accident while driving drunk, Banks may be on the hook for a lesser crime, aggravated driving under the influence, which is only a misdemeanor under Montana DUI laws.

The bizarre events started late Friday night when Mormon was driving her 2011 Ford Ranger erratically and struck three parked cars. After she rammed into the parked cars, Mormon reportedly kept driving down the street.

However, her vehicle became heavily damaged after she struck another car further down the street, and her car eventually came to a stop. According to the police report, her car was in such bad shape that the front tire on the driver’s side of her car was dislodged from the truck.

When police arrested her, they discovered that her blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit, and Mormon was swiftly escorted to jail.

The police likely assumed that the arrest of Mormon put a quiet end to the bizarre incident, but they were surprised to discover that the tow truck driver who responded to the scene had also had too much to drink that night.

According to police, Banks arrived at the scene in his tow truck and was able to remove Mormon’s disabled truck from the street. However, when he tried to sweep up debris from the street, a neighbor suspected that he was drunk and called 911.

When the officers arrived on the scene, they discovered that Banks was indeed drunk, and arrested him on the scene.

Butte police officers did not identify which wrecker company Banks worked for. According to sources, police use several different local towing companies to help haul disabled vehicles after traffic accidents.

Mar

22

DUI Driver Who Killed Google Engineer Given Long Prison Sentence

By Mike

A 57-year-old Washington resident who was driving “drunk and angry” when he killed a man during a DUI car crash was recently sentenced to four years in prison for committing vehicular homicide, according to a report from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The accident occurred last July, when Patrick Stevan Rexroat lost his control and crashed his car while trying to chase down another car in an apparent episode of wild road rage.

After he lost control of his Hyundai Santa Fe SUV, Rexroat slammed into a car traveling in the opposite direction. The impact of the collision killed Stephen Lacey, a father of two who worked as an engineer for Google.

Sources indicate that Lacey was returning home after a shopping trip to Costco when Rexroat slammed into his vehicle.

Tragically, the accident was apparently caused by a senseless act of road rage. After the accident, Rexroat reportedly told a responding officer that he had been cut off by another driver while on Interstate 405 and that he had chased the offending driver off an exit ramp into an arterial road.

In February, after recognizing the potential costs of a trial, Rexroat pleaded guilty to charges of vehicular homicide and reckless driving. At his sentencing this week, King County prosecutors recommended the maximum jail term for the wayward driver.

Superior Court Judge Susan Armstrong agreed with this assessment, and sentenced Rexroat to the maximum possible sentence of four years in prison.

In her sentencing decision, Judge Armstrong may have been swayed by witness testimony that claimd Rexroat started beating on his chest as he was standing on the side of the road after the crash.

Even more disturbingly, one witness told police investigators that Rexroat allegedly responded to the news that the other driver was dead by simply saying, “eh.”

Because of these actions, the prosecutor said Rexroat had a “flagrant disregard for the value of human life.”

Though this may not be true, it cannot be argued that Rexroat showed a blatant disregard for DUI laws and the health of his liver.

Sources indicate that, at the time of his arrest, Rexroat had a blood alcohol level of .29, which is more than three times the legal limit of .08.

In the words of King County Prosecutor Don Satterberg, “[t]he tragic death of Steve Lacey was not an accident. It was the predictable result of aggressive driving under extreme intoxication.” Rexroat will now suffer the consequences of this aggressive driving for several years.

Mar

20

Driver Charged With DUI After Ramming Car into Police Vehicle

By Mike

A South Carolina man as found himself in legal hot water after striking a highway patrol officer’s car while driving drunk, according to a report from the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.

Sources indicate that the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office has charged 44-year-old William Patrick Pitre of driving under the influence of alcohol and causing damage to a police vehicle.

According to the police report, the wreck occurred early last Friday morning on a rural road near Spartanburg, South Carolina.

The trooper whose car was struck was reportedly driving about 35 miles per hour down Cannons Campground Road when Pitre drove his vehicle into the back of the trooper’s car, according to the incident report.

The collision was powerful enough to push the trooper’s vehicle off the shoulder of the road, and the trooper was later taken to the hospital for evaluation, though sources do not indicate whether he was serious injured.

After the DUI accident, Pitre was also treated for injuries at the hospital. He was later jailed and released from the Spartanburg County Detention Facility after posting a $997 bond, as indicated by online jail records.

Pitre will face a challenging legal task as he attempts to prove his innocence. According to a deputy who responded to the scene after the accident, Pitre’s car had a strong odor of “intoxicating beverage,” a sensation that was also experienced by the trooper who was struck by Pitre’s vehicle.

Surprisingly, every week the news cycle seems to introduce a new character who drove drunk and then ran into a police car. And the number of incidents in which drunk motorists strike other cars, or even pedestrians, is infinitely higher.

Even though some drivers might feel they are capable of driving after having a few drinks, high levels of alcohol on one’s system leads to increased response times, slower reflexes, and poor decision-making.

Some anecdotal surveys also suggest that some drunk drivers may be visually attracted to lights, thus making them more susceptible to steer their cars into other vehicles with activated lights.

In light of these realities about the nature of drinking and driving, motorists should remember that driving while drunk can have serious consequences that far outweigh the perceived convenience of driving home after a night of drinking.

Public transportation, taxis, walking, and designated drivers are all possible alternatives to driving while intoxicated. Smart drivers should take advantage of these options, and avoid the heavy fines and possible jail sentence that DUI convictions often bring.

Mar

19

Prized NFL Draft Prospect Sees Stock Slip After Drunk Driving Arrest

By Mike

A former star football player at the University of Georgia was arrested for a DUI last week, and sources say his arrest may compromise his status as a potential top selection in the upcoming NFL Draft.

The arrestee, Orson Charles, who played tight end at Georgia, was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and blocking the flow of traffic by Athens-Clarke County Police in Athens, Georgia, according to a report from ESPN.com.

The incident allegedly took place at 3 a.m. in Athens. Sources indicate that police found Charles’ car stalled in the middle of an intersection. When police checked to see if his car was disabled, Charles started to drive a short distance but soon pulled over at the officers’ request.

After his arrest, Charles took a breathalyzer test and registered a blood alcohol level of .095, which is slightly above the legal limit of .08. Police then booked Charles into Clarke County Jail, and he was released later that morning after posting a $1,750 bond.

A passenger was in the car with Charles when he was arrested, but the passenger has not been identified. Sources did not say whether Charles has obtained the services of a DUI attorney.

ESPN.com reports that the incident could have negative consequences for Charles, who was a 2011 AFCA All-American and is ranked by one scouting service as the 38th-best prospect in April’s NFL Draft.

The same scouting service also ranked Charles as the second-best tight end prospect in the entire draft, which suggests that he could be drafted higher than the 38th position, given the increased importance of the tight end position in the NFL’s pass-happy offenses.

Sources indicate that Charles had 45 catches for 574 yards and five touchdowns during the 2011 season. He finished his career with 10 touchdown catches, which tied Georgia’s all-time record for touchdown catches by a tight end.

This January, Charles announced that he would be leaving Georgia after his successful junior season. This year, Charles was also a finalist for the John Mackey Award, which recognizes the country’s best tight end each year.

To be fair, the DUI arrest will probably not drop Charles very far down most NFL teams’ draft boards. But his response to the DUI arrest and his subsequent actions may prove to be critical as he tries to regain the trust of NFL executives.

Professional sports players have a (somewhat undeserved) reputation as acting as if they are above the law, and professional sports teams are increasingly concerned about keeping their players out of legal trouble.

Mar

16

Colorado Legislators Try to Extend DUI Arrests to Marijuana Users

By Mike

Advocates of legalized marijuana use in Colorado found support from a surprising source last week after a conservative lawmaker voted against a proposed bill that would expand the list of DUI offenses to include the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

According to a report from The Colorado Statesman, Sen. Tim Neville, a Republican legislator from Littleton, Colorado, surprised observers when he was the only member of the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee to vote against the bill.

The DUI bill, Senate Bill 117, was ultimately passed by the committee after a marathon seven-hour debate. The bill will now begin making its way around the Colorado legislature, but it has already spurred heated debate in Colorado.

Under the terms of the proposed bill, Neville claims that legal medical marijuana users could face DUI prosecution even if they are not under the influence of marijuana at the time of their encounter with the police.

The bill suggests that marijuana users could be arrested for a DUI if they have a certain amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in their blood. Critics of the proposed law, however, observe that it can take longer than four weeks for THC to completely remove itself from a user’s system.

Thus, since a law passed in 2000 allowed some patients to use marijuana for medical purposes, critics of the bill claim that some legal marijuana users could be unfairly arrested for a DUI, even if it has been weeks since they last smoked pot.

In Neville’s words, he voted against the bill because “it puts a number of law-abiding people, in my opinion, in harm’s way.” He also told The Colorado Statesmen that, from his perspective, the bill “makes them potential criminals for doing activities that are totally legal.”

Supporters of the bill, however, do not buy this argument. They observe that prosecutors could only charge drivers with a DUI if they have a blood content of 5 nanograms per millimeter or more of THC at the time of their arrest.

This level of marijuana, they argue, is more than a simple trace amount that could remain for weeks after smoking marijuana.

This argument, though, has no convinced the critics of the bill, many of whom lined up outside the Capital chambers last week to testify against the proposed legislation.

They claim that the science behind the bill is woefully inaccurate, and that the bill would pose a serious threat to the civil freedoms of legal marijuana users. These critics, though, face an uphill climb in their battle to change the legislature’s position on the bill.

Mar

15

Top New Jersey School Superintendent Charged with Drunk Driving

By Mike

Just one month after delivering a motivational speech about the perils of drugs and alcohol to an assembly of students, a top New Jersey school official was arrested for a DUI last week, according to a report from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Sources indicate that Joseph Del Rossi, the Superintendent for the Medford Township School District, was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol after he flipped his Jeep last Sunday night in Evesham Township, New Jersey.

The arrest was both sad and ironic because Del Rossi had given an inspiring message about substance abuse to a gathering of 2,000 students and parents last month. Del Rossi has led the school district, which includes more than 3,000 students, for a decade.

And sources say that the news is another troubling black eye for a community still reeling from a sex scandal involving its former mayor and also grappling with extreme budget cuts due to sinking revenues.

According to reports, Del Rossi told police that he flipped his Jeep after swerving to avoid a deer on a local road. Police, however, believe that Del Rossi was drunk at the time of the accident, though they would not yet release the results of his breathalyzer test.

Del Rossi will face an initial hearing on April 12 in Evesham Township’s Municipal Court. The superintendent’s DUI attorney refused to speak to reporters after the incident.

In addition to his attorney’s silence, school board members have also refused to speak publicly about the matter, claiming that it is a mere “personal issue.” The board, undoubtedly, is looking to investigate the matter more thoroughly before throwing its support behind Del Rossi.

However, Randy Pace, the new mayor of Medford Township, was less cautious with his words about Del Rossi, who was driving a vehicle that was paid for by the school when the accident occurred.

According to Pace, Del Rossi is “one of the most well-known, charismatic, and well-liked individuals in the township . . . and we all make mistakes. But he allegedly was in a publicly owned vehicle and was intoxicated.”

Pace believes that the school board should take quick action, and that Del Rossi should either resign or promptly notify the board that he will go on administrative leave until the incident is resolved.

Pace, however, has no power to force the board or Del Rossi to take any action, so the board’s decision may be delayed while Del Rossi sorts out his legal troubles.

Mar

13

Massachusetts Man Arrested for Fifth DUI After Fatal Car Accident

By Mike

Frederick J. Weller, a Massachusetts resident, is facing his fifth DUI charge, along with several other felony charges, after allegedly causing a five-car crash that led to the death of a 24-year-old woman.

The 35-year-old Weller, who is from Sandy Hook, Massachusetts, reportedly caused a massive traffic accident last week in Sheffield, Massachusetts, according to a recent report in The Berkshire Eagle. The accident left one woman dead and another driver has been hospitalized and is in serious condition.

Sources indicate that Weller, who has been arrested four previous times for driving under the influence of alcohol, is being held without bail in the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction.

Police often hold suspects without bail if they believe they are a risk for flight or have committed a serious enough offense that it warrants keeping them behind bars pending a trial.

Sources say that, during his initial arraignment in Central Berkshire District Court, Weller was “emotional” when the judge ordered that he be held without bail until he faces a “dangerousness hearing” next week in court.

If Weller fails to prove to the court that he is not a danger to others upon release, he may have a continued stay in jail until he has a chance to prove his innocence at trial.

In addition to his fifth DUI charge, which warrants a serious felony penalty itself, Weller is also facing charges of vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of property damage, operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, and intimidating a witness.

According to the police report, Weller allegedly left his vehicle after the accident and threatened two witnesses before he left the scene on foot. When he exited his car, witnesses claim that Weller appeared injured and bloodied.

While Weller has a long history of drunk driving offenses, he also apparently has a lengthy criminal record for other offenses, as well.

Sources say Weller was arrested in August 2011 at his home in connection with a complaint about potential larceny. He was also charged with threatening a witness after a DUI accident in 2005.

For his actions, Weller could be facing a lengthy prison sentence and a hefty fine. Judges are often less lenient with multiple DUI offenders, and the addition of a fatality into the DUI accident raises plenty of alarms in a courtroom.

With his shaky record, and the sordid alleged details of the recent incident, Weller is likely facing a very lengthy prison term.

Mar

9

Wayward DUI Driver Slams into Sacramento Apartment Complex

By Mike

Following a trend that seems to have taken over the DUI news airwaves, another drunk driver rammed his car into a building last week. This time, the victim of the drunk driving was a California apartment complex.

According to a report from KTXL News in Sacramento, California, residents at a local apartment complex received an odd awakening last Saturday night when a wayward drunk driver slammed into their building around 2 a.m.

The accident occurred after a speeding car piloted by a drunk driver ran over several bushes and took out a sign advertising the apartment complex, which is very close to Sacramento City College.

After taking an ill-advised detour through the building’s front lawn, the driver ended up slamming into the kitchen of one of the building’s residents, although the resident was not injured in the accident.

Miraculously, the woman who lived in the unlucky apartment had exited her kitchen just moments before. Sources indicate that, if she had stayed in the kitchen doing her homework for a few minutes, the impact of the collision would probably have killed her.

According to the woman who was the victim of the crash, she was “extremely shocked” about the incident and remained very distraught the morning after the accident.

In her words, “[m]y kitchen is exposed, we had to barricade the door area, so that no one would break in or so no debris would come in.” Fortunately, though, her apartment has remained safe since the collision.

After the accident, the driver and the passenger of the car that mistook a kitchen for a parking lot were treated at a local hospital for relatively minor injuries.

The driver, who has yet to be named, will eventually be arrested, but authorities will wait until he is released from the hospital before they apply handcuffs and formally arrest him.

Such collisions are more common than one might think, as the weekly news wire often offers shocking tales of drunk drivers who wind up in people’s living rooms.

The proliferation of such stories shows just how dangerous drunk driving can be. When people operate cars while they are under the influence of alcohol, they are a serious risk to both themselves and to others.

Thankfully, not every DUI incident involves a serious collision. In fact, more often than not, drunk drivers are pulled over by police before they have an opportunity to do serious harm.

Nevertheless, the odds of being involved in a fatal accident increase exponentially when you get behind a wheel after having too many drinks.

Mar

8

Virginia Passes Bill Requiring Ignition Locks for DUI Offenders

By Mike

A few weeks after the state’s House of Representatives passed a similar bill, the Virginia Senate recently voted 26-13 in favor of a proposed law that would require first-time DUI offenders to have an ignition interlock system installed in their cars.

Under current Virginia DUI law, ignition interlocks are only mandatory for people who have been convicted of more than one DUI offense, according to a report from Patch.com. This system matches the law that is in place in many other states.

The new bill, however, would require Virginia drivers who are arrested for their first DUI offense to have an ignition interlock installed, which represents a fairly strict rule for first-time DUI offenders.

Ignition interlocks, for those who have not had the unfortunate distinction of using them, require drivers to blow into a breathalyzer device before they are able to start the car. If the driver’s blood alcohol content is above .02, the ignition interlock will prevent the car from starting.

The Virginia bill’s journey towards becoming a law has not been easy, as this is the sixth straight year that the interlock ignition rule has been proposed in Virginia’s General Assembly.

According to Kurt Erickson, who serves as the president of the Washington Regional Alcoholic Program, “Virginia’s patience with the more than 29,000 drivers in the state annually convicted of driving under the influence has worn thin.”

Erickson’s point is well taken, particularly because data collected from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does show that almost 30,000 people were convicted for drunk driving offenses in Virginia in 2010.

In Erickson’s mind, ignition interlock devices help stop people from driving drunk. And, if the initial test doesn’t work, subsequent tests while the driver is operating his or her vehicle continue monitoring the driver’s blood alcohol level.

If the device determines that a driver is drunk while driving, the vehicle’s horn will start blowing, and the headlights will begin flashing to attract nearby police officers.

Of course, not every Virginian is excited about the proposed law. Some critics argue that the mandatory use of ignition interlock systems is overkill for first-time DUI offenders, many of whom will avoid drunk driving in the future.

Critics also argue that ignition interlock machines invade individual drivers’ privacy. This argument, however, was ignored by the Virginia Senate, which determined that the public benefit of ignition interlocks outweighs the loss of privacy suffered by individual drivers.

Mar

5

Prosecutors Drop DUI Charges Against Pittsburgh Steelers’ Hines Ward

By Mike

Aging NFL wide receiver Hines Ward may be facing an off season of uncertainty, but he did receive some good news recently when prosecutors decided to drop their DUI charges against the star football player.

Ward, who was arrested in DeKalb County, Georgia months ago for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol, will not face trial for a DUI but will instead receive a year of probation, according to a report from Fox News.

Last week, DeKalb County Prosecutor Sonja N. Brown announced that Ward pleaded guilty to a less crime—reckless driving—and was sentenced to a year of probation.

In addition to his year of probation, Ward will also reportedly be fined $2,000 and he will have to perform 80 hours of community service, although his blocking efforts in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense will not count towards this service requirement.

Ward, who gained fame with a non-football audience when he won a “Dancing With the Stars” competition a few years ago, was arrested in 2011 after he ran into a curb after failing to stay in his lane while driving.

The 35-year-old wide receiver, who was voted the Most Valuable Player in Super Bowl XL, reportedly failed several field sobriety tests after his accident. Ward was booked into the DeKalb County jail after his arrest but was soon released on bond.

Ward’s release from his DUI charges has stirred up a bit of controversy, as public watchdogs claim that less famous citizens in similar circumstances may not have been quite so lucky.

Indeed, famous athletes and celebrities often seem to face more lenient sentences for certain crimes, although this charge can be hard to prove.

Still, Ward’s brisk release from drunk driving charges, even after he failed several field sobriety tests, has created a predictable amount of public outcry.

In addition to public criticism, the legal headache of the mandatory year of probation added more stress to an uncertain time for Ward, who, at 35 years old, has passed his prime as an NFL wide receiver.

In his younger years, Ward was a dangerous receiver for the Steelers, but he saw his targets decline last season as Pittsburgh’s offense utilized its younger receivers like Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace.

And, even though Ward has two years remaining on his contract with the Steelers, the team is reportedly considering cutting the veteran wide receiver. Since most NFL contracts are not guaranteed, teams often drop fading stars to cut salary and pursue younger players.

Mar

2

California Study Claims that DUI Checkpoints Reduce Traffic Fatalities

By Mike

A survey performed by a state auditor found that DUI checkpoints in California prevent deadly accidents and typically follow the rules that restrict their use, although there are very few rules to follow, according to an article in the Merced Sun-Star.

The auditor’s report observed that DUI checkpoints in California are not governed by any federal or state DUI laws. In addition, the California Office of Traffic Safety does not have to monitor the activities at its checkpoints, despite funding more than 2,000 such checkpoints each year.

Of course, despite some criticism of the checkpoints’ perceived status as existing outside the law, the report observed that fatalities on California roads dropped by almost 12 percent in the least year, which could be attributed to the increase in DUI checkpoints.

According to the director of the traffic safety office, Chris Murphy, the report “speaks volumes to the work” that he and his staff have been doing, and it proves that the checkpoint program “has been running very efficiently and effectively.”

The traffic safety office has a lot invested in the checkpoints, so it’s natural that its leaders are touting the merits of the checkpoint program.

Sources indicate that the office spent almost $17 million for police overtime work at 2,500 different checkpoints during the 2010 fiscal year. All this work led to roughly 28,000 citations for unlicensed drivers, and 7,000 drunk driving arrests.

Much of the criticism leveled at the checkpoints has related to the thousands of arrests for driving without a license.

After such an arrest, police typically impounded the drivers’ cars, often for up to 30 days. In order to retrieve their cars, these drivers had to pay upwards of $1,500 in fees and towing charges. As a result, cars that were worth less than that sum were often simply abandoned at the impoundment lot.

The majority of drivers who lost their cars for driving without a license were undocumented immigrants, who are not allowed to have official driver’s licenses in California.

Critics of the checkpoints observe that the fees gained from checkpoint arrests are a major cash source for local governments. They also claim that the disparity between drunk driving arrests and other, more minor, offenses at these checkpoints show that combating drunk driving is not the main purpose of the program.

Nevertheless, despite these claims, fatal traffic accidents in California are on the decline, so the state will likely continue its current checkpoint practices for the foreseeable future.