$50,000 to fund five sobriety checkpoints? “No thanks,” said Fullerton Councilmen Travis Kiger, Bruce Whitaker and Greg Sebourn. They did however vote to accept $146,222 to fund other DUI prevention programs including saturation patrols.
Sounding like a defense attorney, Kiger questioned the constitutionality of checkpoints by saying, “I don’t appreciate thousands of legal and licensed drivers being stopped without cause.” Kiger also said, “The other side is that it is wasteful…They have been proven ineffective over and over.”
Kiger was likely referring to the fact that nine sobriety checkpoints have been conducted in Fullerton since 2009. In those nine checkpoints 3,520 people were stopped. Of the 3,520 people stopped, only 23 were arrested for driving under the influence. That is approximately 2.6 arrests per checkpoints. At $10,000 per checkpoint, I wonder how much went to officer’s overtime pay.
Not surprisingly, M.A.D.D. criticized the decision. Executive director of the Orange County M.A.D.D. chapter, Mary Beth Griffin said, “The intention of checkpoints is not to arrest people. The risk of getting caught is what keeps drunks off the road. They are among the most effective drunk-driving deterrents.”
M.A.D.D. weren’t the only critics. Community members, including victims and relatives of victims, also expressed disapproval of the Council’s decision. Among them, Carrie Stewart-Dixon, the mother of a DUI victim addressed the Council. She contended that had the drunk driver who killed her daughter gone through a checkpoint, her daughter would still be alive.
Councilman Bruce Whitaker responded, “The…death in Fullerton was a terrible tragedy. But all of these accidents and deaths have happened while we’ve had DUI checkpoints…Those checkpoints failed to prevent those accidents…Merely saying that if it saves one life at whatever cost…I think misses the point. What we really need to do is manage limited resources in a way to get the most effect from those limited resources.”
Fullerton Mayor, Sharon Quirk-Silva, responded to the criticism by requiring the Council to reconsider its decision in a future meeting.
Why should the second consideration be any different? Well, the Traffic Safety grant administrator has since decided to browbeat the Council into accepting the $50,000 by threatening to rescind the grant of the $146,222 for the other DUI prevention programs if it did not vote to accept the $50,000 for DUI checkpoints.
Isn’t the purpose of the granting the money in the first place to prevent DUIs? Using the threat of no prevention money as leverage is just disturbing. Makes you wonder why the Office of Traffic Safety is so adamant on funding checkpoints.
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