Sunday, June 8, 2008

California DUI cops resort to "slicktop" tricks to try to catch drunk drivers

California's Visalia Police Department is using low-profile cars to catch California DUI - drunk drivers.

Standard black-and-white squad cars have a light bar on top. That's the apparatus that holds the flashing lights. The cars are easy to spot in the rearview mirror.

But the low-profile squad cars are called "slicktops," said the California DUI department's fleet supervisor. There's no light bar on the roof. Rather, the lights are under the windshield, like a CHP car and are harder to see. That's just how the California DUI enforcement team likes it.

Slicktops aren't new to Visalia California DUI police. Black, unmarked slicktops have been in the fleet since 2003. The anti-gang unit uses several.

The California DUI department started buying slicktops painted an inconspicuous white, and marked "Visalia Police." Six are in the traffic division, and the word "Traffic" is on the doors.

"We primarily use them for detection of DUI," say California DUI lawyers, referring to California DUI - driving under the influence of alcohol. "They just don't see you."

The reality of it was driven home on a ride-along in a Fresno P.D. slicktop.

"It is remarkable what you could see. You see so much more," California DUI attorneys claim.

"I'm sure there are arrests made" for California DUI because drivers didn't see the slicktops on their tail, according to California DUI lawyers.

People expect to see a light bar. But no one has complained that the slicktops are too hard to see, California DUI lawyers are told.

There are ways of looking at being publicly visible. A marked black and white with the light bar jutting up can easily be seen and produces voluntary compliance with the law. The less-visible slicktops produce California DUI arrests that might not have taken place, per California DUI lawyers.