by Keith Colgan – Editor of LODI360
Extending well past my bed time with temperatures dipping into the low 40’s, last night I experienced what it was like to attend a DUI Checkpoint in Lodi. These are my observations.
First, the logistics were extreme. Sgt. Chris Jacobson’s first concern was safety for both his people and the good citizens of Lodi using Lockeford Street that evening. Nothing was left to chance. Flares, reflective cones, flashing lights, signs and stationary vehicles were strategically placed to define and protect working areas. Special portable lighting was used for improved visibility. Tow trucks were staged for the inevitable separation of man from his machine.
Manpower was supplied by a team of highly trained sworn officers and volunteers. Volunteers included a cadre of young Cadets and senior Lodi PD “Partners”. In addition, three representatives from MADD were on hand to distribute educational material.
After all preparations were made, which took about 90 minutes, officers began the process of interviewing drivers. A friendly greeting, a brief explanation, a request to see their driver’s license, and people were quickly on their way having had a positive, uneventful experience with local law enforcement.
However, it only took a few minutes before the people most feared by mothers and fathers began occupying the full attention of Sgt Jacobson’s team. Drivers without proper licensing and those suspected of being under the influence were asked to move their vehicles to designated areas where driving status and ownership were verified by a dedicated dispatcher working from the police station. If necessary, FST’s (Field Sobriety Tests) were given. Some passed without incident, others did not and faced the consequences.
Occasionally, drivers could be seen approaching the checkpoint, only to make a quick u-turn. Not a good idea because patrol and traffic officers on motorcycles were positioned on the fringes to encourage their participation.
A few observations …
1. In the past, most violations discovered at a DUI Checkpoint would trigger an automatic tow and 30-day impound of your vehicle. Now, violators in California are given the opportunity to have their vehicle driven away by the registered owner or designated licensed driver.
2. Regardless of the offense, long hours and frigid temperatures, police officers remained polite, professional and good-natured.
3. Lodi has a strong support system of citizen volunteers.
4. One feels a bit safer for himself and his family knowing that people who insist on driving drunk are being discouraged.
5. You can easily smell alcohol on the breath of a drunk from 15 feet.