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Californian campaign delivers checkpoints

Hayley Hulin
Staff Writer

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department arrested more than 2,000 people at DUI checkpoints leading to Labor Day.

This has prompted the Sheriff’s Department and La Verne Police department to apply for more checkpoint grants.

These checkpoints are part of California’s “Avoid DUI Campaign” which started in 1973 and target specific holidays and special events throughout the year.

Holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Eve, Fourth of July weekend and Labor Day weekend are what law enforcement calls the “mobilization period.”

For the recent Labor Day DUI checkpoints, San Dimas Sheriffs arrested one person on Aug. 16 and another Aug. 24.

In total they issued 11 citations out of the 1,164 cars that went through the checkpoint.

“We have to meet certain requirements. The checkpoints have to be ran in a certain manner,” Deputy Michael White of the San Dimas Sheriff’s Department said.

“We did a checkpoint on the 20th of December then on the 4th of January,” White said. “OTS wants us to do it around major holidays.”

The Office of Traffic Safety, or OTS, administers traffic safety grants to police and sheriff’s departments in California. DUI checkpoints are priority for grant funding.

OTS dictates how and when checkpoints occur for safety and funding purposes. The police are required to wear neon vests, have a certain amount of deputies checking lanes, and must count cars as they pass through.

“We are looking for people that display symptoms of alcohol use,” Deputy Geoff Grisso of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s San Dimas Station said.

Driving under the influence of alcohol is not the only thing law enforcement looks for based on new OTS requirements.

“They are encouraging us to crackdown on driving under the influence of marijuana,” Grisso said.

The San Dimas Station covers San Dimas as well as Azusa, Claremont, Pomona, Covina, West Covina, the San Bernardino Mountains and La Verne.

Although the Sheriff’s Department covers that area, grants for DUI checkpoints are given for specific cities, not departments.

“We have to focus on San Dimas because that is the city the grant is for,” Grisso said.

The San Dimas Station recently applied for four DUI checkpoint grants.

These checkpoints would take place at various locations in San Dimas during designated “mobilization periods” throughout the next year.

“We can have it changed to a non-holiday, but it has to be approved by OTS,” Grisso said.

La Verne Police Department did not take part in the Labor Day DUI checkpoints, but hopes to next year.

“We put in for a grant to OTS that will enable us to do checkpoints,” Sgt. Dave Mortazavi of the La Verne Police Department said.

They have been slotted for a total of six checkpoints next year for La Verne alone.

According to OTS, California leads the nation in number of sobriety checkpoints with more than 2,000 a year.

With checkpoints in La Verne beginning as early as New Year’s Eve, students should be cautious during holiday weekends and designate a sober driver.

Hayley Hulin can be reached at hayley.hulin@laverne.edu.

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