Sober or not, drivers in Goleta will roll up on a new wave of driving under the influence checkpoints this year as a result of a $45,832 grant from the state Office of Traffic Safety.
The City of Goleta Police Dept. applied for the grant though University of California, Berkeley, which allotted the sum in an effort to curb drunk driving in Goleta, especially during the holiday season and summer vacation – when DUI fatalities most frequently occur.
Office of Traffic Safety spokesman Chris Cochran said Goleta police can now manage several checkpoints without breaking their budget.
“The grant usually pays for their overtime, for the department to be able to have enough officers and personnel,” Cochran said. “It’s primarily so the police department won’t have to incur the overtime.”
DUI checkpoints have proven effective in combating drunk driving, according to a Goleta Police Dept. press release. The report cited 14,886 screenings at checkpoints since 2004, resulting in 117 field sobriety tests, 76 DUI arrests, five felony arrests, 41 misdemeanor (non-DUI) arrests, 15 suspended and unlicensed driver citations and a total of 380 vehicles towed. While checkpoints can help stop crimes in progress, Cochran said that DUI enforcement is designed to deter even potential DUI threats.
“The purpose of the checkpoint is to deter people from driving drunk in the first place,” Cochran said. “There is research that shows when checkpoints are used thoroughly, DUI fatalities go down as much as 20 percent.”
Funding for the grant comes through the OTS directly from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Cochran said that the grant allotted for Goleta is technically a “mini-grant,” a smaller specific grant that is easier for most cities to apply for.
“It is a reasonably liberal grant process for the mini-grants,” Cochran said. “It was for a very specific purpose, so the grant is less. The funding is broken up according to how many people apply for it and how big the area is. We don’t usually turn people away unless they don’t complete the paper work.”
Cochran said that such funding is easily available because of the sizable risk DUI accidents pose to California drivers.
“Impaired driving accounts for 40 percent of death injuries and is the number one preventable crime in the state of California,” Cochran said. “It’s being attacked in lots of different ways. It’s a large and complex problem.”