Fresno Cracks Down on DUI
Fresno, Calif., police are erecting roadblocks, performing stakeouts, and using night-vision goggles, satellite tracking devices, and video cameras in a crackdown intended to stop drunken drivers. These strategies have made the city one of the nation’s toughest regarding drunk driving.
Although police claim the four-year-old initiative has resulted in a significant decrease in fatal car accidents, restaurants and bars contend it is harming business and placing a damper on city’s nightlife, while defense attorneys and civil liberties activists caution that Fresno has gone too far.
Fresno police are placing undercover police close to bars to look out for drunken individuals heading to their vehicles. They are also erecting numerous drunk-driving checkpoints, and are discreetly placing Global Positioning System (GPS) devices on the vehicles of convicted drunken drivers to track whether they are going to liquor stores or bars, which would violate their parole or probation.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police has listed Fresno’s initiative as the best in the country.
Four years ago, more individuals in Fresno were killed in car accidents than by murder, a figure that caused Police Chief Jerry Dyer to expand the traffic division from 22 officers to 76, to have the department make greater use of checkpoints, and to start using GPS devices.
The level of alcohol-related accidents that have caused injuries has dropped from 125 four years ago to 105 in 2006, while the level of DUI arrests has increased from 2,169 in 2002 to a predicted 3,000 for 2006, police stated.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) from the Associated Press (12/21/06); Burke, Garance.