Sunday, December 23, 2007

Riverside California DUI attorney news

California DUI lawyer news for Christmas

Forget cell phone calls and text messaging: Police say that motorist-to-motorist warnings don't seem to diminish the effectiveness of holiday California DUI sobriety checkpoints and the roving California DUI drunken-driver hunts they call saturation patrols.

"We typically average ... around 10 California DUI arrests a night," Sgt. John Mattke said of the California DUI checkpoints he sets up for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

"But I generally put a California DUI saturation patrol around my checkpoint. So if there's a bar down the street ... we're going to catch some of them."

Most cities wage the California DUI battle on three fronts. California DUI Saturation patrols are very effective at catching California DUI drunken drivers, Mattke said.

California DUI Checkpoints catch perhaps half as many drunks as the patrols, but are extremely visible evidence that the California DUI cops are out in force. California DUI Officers say that deters California DUI drunk driving.

The third element is California DUI public education, ranging from fliers that warn of the penalties for DUI to announcements of impending California DUI checkpoints and California Drunk Driving saturation patrols.

During the last two weeks of December, at least 14 California DUI checkpoints and 71 saturation patrols are scheduled throughout San Bernardino County, said Mattke, who coordinates large-scale holiday California DUI crackdowns throughout the county.

In Riverside County, there is no coordinator and no cumulative count, but a dozen cities -- from Blythe to Corona and from Banning to Murrieta -- will be conducting California DUI checkpoints and California Drunk Driving patrols, said Chris Cochran, of the state Office of Traffic Safety.

Most are done on Friday and Saturday nights during what California DUI police say are the largest anti-DUI efforts of the year.

On Friday, Riverside police were scheduled to conduct a California DUI checkpoint and San Bernardino police planned to hold California DUI saturation patrols.

Aimed at reducing the number of potentially fatal DUI wrecks, and funded by federal grants, the annual California DUI crackdowns are expected at this time of the year.

Whether the California DUI checkpoints and hunts work is a matter of how success is measured. Arrests are up, but so are DUI-related fatalities.

Bodies and bottom lines

Fatalities in San Bernardino and Riverside counties have increased about 38 percent, from about 110 in 2002 to more than 150 in 2006.

The reasons are unclear.

"Part of it: There has been an increase in population," said Cochran, who believes that a larger population includes more drunken drivers. "But that's not the whole (answer), and there have been no scientific studies on it."

This season's big push is spurred in part by $100 million in federal grants that were distributed during fiscal year 2006-07 throughout the state by the Office of Traffic Safety.

"Over time, (the statewide total) increases like inflation," said Cochran.

"But the amount varies year to year."

The total for fiscal year 2007-08 dropped to $70 million, he said.

However, since grants run from one to three years, many cities DUI programs continue to be well funded.

San Bernardino is in the middle of a $1 million two-year grant that has allowed the city to add four motorcycle officers at night.

"Before, we were just a dayshift, for the most part," said traffic Sgt. Jarrod Burguan

With the help of grants, San Bernardino police have scheduled six holiday anti-DUI programs: four California DUI saturation patrols and two California DUI checkpoints.

It will be hard to gauge how successful the efforts are in reducing drunken-driving injuries and fatalities.

"You never know how effective you were," Burguan said, "because you don't know what would have happened if you hadn't done it."

Cat and mouse

Like most police work, DUI efforts are altered periodically to adapt to changing times.

"Instant-messaging has made it difficult for us because it gives up our (checkpoint) locations so quickly," said Capt. Andy Hall, a past commander of anti-DUI efforts in Fresno.

"We still do checkpoints. But in addition, ... we stake out bars.

"We have undercover officers in the parking lot. If (exiting bar patrons) are stumbling drunk, we don't let them get to their cars."

Officers also watch bar patrons get behind the wheel, quickly evaluate their driving and decide whether to stop and arrest them.

In recent years, Fresno has attracted national attention because of its emphasis on anti-drunken-driving efforts, which Hall said sometimes included a California DUI checkpoint-a-day during December.

"At our high point, we were doing almost 100 a year," he said.

"I think we've backed it down to 75 a year. Most (cities) do maybe 12."

Under Hall's direction, Fresno California DUI police also focused on changing their own officers' attitudes toward California DUI drunk driving.