Gilroy police crackdown on drunk driving

DUI Checkpoint set for the weekend of Aug. 18. Photo: versageek via Flickr/crop

If you’re planning to kick a few drinks back this weekend, you ought to keep the car at home. The Gilroy Police Department (GPD) will set up a DUI checkpoint in an undisclosed area for the weekend of August 18.

According to a press release from the GPD, DUI checkpoints have been proven to reduce the number of fatalities. In 2015 and 2016, there were 18 total DUI injury accidents.

“Research shows that crashes involving an impaired driver can be reduced by up to 20 percent when well-publicized DUI checkpoints and proactive DUI patrols are conducted routinely,” the GPD press release said.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety administration, in 2015, 9,967 people were killed in impaired driving accidents. In 2012, 802 people were killed by impaired drivers in California.

“Officers will be looking for signs of alcohol and drug impairment with officers checking drivers for proper licensing delaying motorists only momentarily,” read the GPD release. “When possible, specially trained officers will be available to evaluate those suspected of drug-impaired driving.”

In case you were wondering, marijuana counts as a drug that impairs drivers. Statistics provided by GPD indicates that 30 percent of drivers in fatal crashes had one or more drugs in their bodies at the time of the crash. A study of active drivers revealed that 14 percent of drivers who tested positive for drugs, compared to 7.3 who were impaired by alcohol. Of those, 7.4 percent tested positive for drug impairment tested positive for marijuana.

“According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), checkpoints have provided the most effective documented results of any of the DUI enforcement strategies, while also yielding considerable cost savings of $6 for every $1 spent,” the GPD press release said. “Nearly 90 percent of California drivers approve of DUI checkpoints.”

The GPD chooses locations for the checkpoints based on statistics that indicate which sites netted the most DUI arrests. These sites of opportunity are also chosen with the safety of officers in mind.

The consequences of a DUI conviction are steep. Fines exceeding $10,000, jail time, DUI classes and suspensions of driving privileges accompany a conviction. The GPD funds the checkpoints through a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety.