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Manteca Police conducting DUI, drivers license checkpoint
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If you’re planning on hitting the streets in Manteca between 7 p.m. on Saturday and 1 a.m. Sunday, don’t leave home without your driver’s license or get behind the wheel if you’re intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.

The Manteca Police Department Traffic Unit, during that time period, will be conducting a DUI/Driver’s License Checkpoint at an undisclosed location with the city.

Here’s what will happen at the checkpoint. Drivers passing through the checkpoint will be contacted by officers for signs of alcohol and/or drug impairment. At the same time, they will be checking if drivers have proper licensing.

Officers “will strive to delay motorists only momentarily,” said Manteca PD spokeswoman Sgt. Jodie Estarziau.

“When possible, specially trained officers will be available to evaluate those suspected of drug-impaired driving,” she added.

Driving under the influence could result in jail, license suspension, and insurance increases as well as fines, fees, DUI classes, plus other expenses that can exceed $10,000, said Estarziau.

Deterrent effects of DUI checkpoints, statistics on lives saved

DUI checkpoints have been credited in reducing the number of persons killed and injured in alcohol-related or drug-involved car crashes, stated Estarziau. Research also points to a reduction in alcohol-involved crashes by an average of 20 percent “when publicized checkpoints are conducted often enough,” she added.

“I believe they are very successful,” she said of these DUI checkpoints. “There are three primary objectives for conducting checkpoints. It provides an important governmental interest by public safety, (it) serves as a deterrent to potentially impaired drivers, and educates the public of the dangers of drinking and driving,” Estarziau said.

The stakes are very high in terms of human lives lost. According to statistics provided by Estarziau, nearly 10,000 people in the United States were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes that involved at least one driver or motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher just in 2011 alone. The number for the state of California from this deadly crime is 744 deaths that were the result of someone failing to designate a sober driver.

Estarziau also cited statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which reports that “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 director of the Office of Traffic Safety, Christopher J. Murphy, is also quoted as saying, “DUI checkpoints have been an essential part of the phenomenal reduction in DUI deaths that we witnessed since 2006 in California.”

The tragedy of DUI accounts for nearly one third of traffic fatalities, which is why the high visibility enforcement and public awareness that checkpoints provide in cities like Manteca is needed, he added.

Staging, location and checkpoint location notices

There is no limit to the number of DUI checkpoints that are conducted in any given city such as Manteca, Estarziau explained. “Mainly it depends on funds and staffing levels.”

As to how they select the location where they set up a checkpoint in the city, she said, “We check collision and DUI statistics and traffic volume to find the most effective location to hold it. We also abide by previous Case Law in relation to checkpoint preparation and execution.”

As to the reason behind the advance notification when a checkpoint is scheduled without divulging the planned location, Estarziau said the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) recommend a 48-hour notification. However, “there is no law requiring it in order to be considered a valid checkpoint,” she said.

Funding for this particular checkpoint is through the Sobriety Checkpoint Grant that the Manteca Police Department received from OTS.

“We also conduct enforcement and checkpoints through the countywide AVOID THE 10 which is supported by the California OTS and the NHSTA,” Estarziau said.

DUI checkpoints also serve as clarion calls for the public to call 9-1-1 if they see a drunk driver.