The DUI Checkpoint Scam: 16 Cops + 6 Hours of Overtime = 4 Drunks


How many cops does it take to bust a drunk driver? A whole lot of ‘em if they’re running a checkpoint.

Last month we asked Chief Michael Sellers a few questions on recent DUI checkpoints in Fullerton. The stats that we got back lead to the conclusion that DUI checkpoints are just a handy bonus program for Fullerton cops, with little effect on public safety.

Back in March the Fullerton PD ran a 6 hour DUI checkpoint which employed sixteen police officers, each of them earning overtime pay — that’s 150% of their normal wage.  At the end of the night, the police had nabbed only four motorists for driving under the influence. The city also impounded a dozen cars from unlicensed drivers, but that’s a whole different shakedown.

Just stand here?

While hundreds of law-abiding drivers were being forced to stop and produce identification, patrons at downtown bars were spreading the word… intoxicated drivers should drive around the checkpoint on the way home.

So what is Chief Sellers’ excuse for such a blatant handout to his boys in blue?

Those guys made me do it.

The checkpoints are funded by state grants, says Sellers, as if that justifies any ‘ol squanderance that public employees can dream up. Around here, we call that “passing the buck”. It’s still our money, Chief, and we don’t want to fund overtime for your officers if they can’t be effective.

No local program should operate just because the state says it can. This is California, after all — a state renowned for it’s fiscal irresponsibility and zealous over-governance. Sixteen public safety employees on overtime without any significant accomplishments might slide under the radar in Sacramento, but we have higher expectations of our local agencies.

There will be another DUI checkpoint on tonight along Commonwealth in downtown Fullerton.

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  1. #1 by Chris Thompson on May 5, 2010

    Playing a shell game with public funds seems to satisfy Joe Citizen. Until there is not enough money left to buy the shells.

  2. #2 by SauceBrick on May 5, 2010

    It’s true that word of the DUI checkpoints spreads around the bars very quickly. Nobody stops drinking, but they do choose a different route home.

  3. #3 by Joe Sipowicz on May 5, 2010

    Seems like it would just be cheaper to set up the checkpoint outside the bar. As the drunks wander out of the bars, tag ‘em and bag ‘em.

  4. #4 by Admiral on May 5, 2010

    How are these things still considered legal and constitutionally acceptable? Papers, please.

  5. #5 by Greg on May 5, 2010

    If the PD and the community are serious about drunk driving, post breathalizers at all of the parking lot exits. No Blow, No Go, No Way.

    That would be a good start that I think I heard first from a commentator regarding the downtown booze-doggle.

  6. #6 by 21 Jump Street on May 5, 2010

    In 1990 the Supreme Court narrowly ruled that DUI checkpoints were only a minor infringement on the right to be free from “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

    Checkpoints set up with the sole purpose of paying officers overtime and impounding vehicles for cash, however, are not constitutionally protected. The city of Escondido is dealing with this issue right now.

    http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/escondido/article_0ee24b19-f71a-5a3f-bf03-96505362bf33.html

  7. #7 by Rain on May 5, 2010

    Public employees’ unions have corrupted the processes of local government (e.g. school teachers “teach” Leftist propaganda and social deviance, not necessarily because all of them believe it, but rather to ensure continuance of their huge financial over-compensation for the small “price” of selling their souls.

    The police and fire employees are vastly more over compensated for their jobs, which similarly would not receive even half of the pay rates, except for the fact that it is a vicious cycle of money flows from the union members back to the (union member self-serving politicians) on the other side of the “bargaining” table.

    This sad state of affairs is the triumph of the Democrat-Communist Party in America which must merely get over 50% of the population fully beholden to – dependent upon – government largess in order to overwhelm and smother this nation, as the last bastion of limited government freedom on earth.

    I can readily see how simple it was to get the “girls” (i.e. irresponsible divorcee “single-moms” and newly “educated” anti-man Feminists and homosexual males of the Teachers Unions) to sell out our freedoms, but the policemen and firemen used to be nearly 100% actual former military service members, who learned the idealistic manner of citizenship and selfless national (i.e. community) service “under fire.”

    This situation cannot change in the Anti-Man culture which has grown up around the victim mentality which needed to characterize men as brutes in order to provide “credibility” to the “masses” of oppressed females and “other” minorities of the Democrat-Communist Party political base.

    The only ones who might ever wake up to their own culcability are the “male” cops and fire service employees (I don’t use the word men so loosely as I did in days gone by).

    • #8 by Christian on May 5, 2010

      Rain,
      Based on what you said above, what is your take on the Corey Allen (sp?) demotion with the Fullerton Fire Department? I don’t know all the facts but it was brought up at last night’s council meeting and sounded like something that should be publicly vetted. Is she a victim our a culprit?

    • #9 by nipsey on May 6, 2010

      Rain, oh Rain. You got a couple of points right, and thanks for that, but you’re still a nut.

      Ole!

  8. #10 by Curmudgeon on May 5, 2010

    Were those dozen unlicensed drivers turned over to ICE?

  9. #11 by Johnny Donut on May 5, 2010

    Curmudgeon :Were those dozen unlicensed drivers turned over to ICE?

    Very unlikely. That doesn’t bring in any dough for the city. They prefer to just impound the cars.

  10. #12 by Greg on May 5, 2010

    If they were booked through OC Jail, ICE would have direct access.

    • #13 by Johnny Donut on May 5, 2010

      I’m pretty sure they don’t get booked for driving without a license. It’s just a citation and a vehicle impound.

      • #14 by Greg on May 5, 2010

        Johnny,
        If a person is stopped and they have no ID and the officer is issuing a ticket, the officer will take them into custody pending their positive identification. Some cities take them directly to OC Jail to be ID’d others do it in-house.

  11. #15 by van get it da artiste on May 5, 2010

    instead of paying cops overtime to check for drunk drivers, why not take this grant money and stimulate the private sector by paying taxis to drive drunks home. It would really be a fullerton collaborative with a warm fuzzy feel to it. FPD or city o fullerton wouldn’t profit from this but it would make our streets safer.

  12. #16 by Christian on May 5, 2010

    Hey van, you get the good idea award for the day! Adding to your idea, bill the bartenders who overserve drunks for their cab rides home.

  13. #17 by DRUNK IN PUBLIC on May 5, 2010

    I would take a cab home, but I’d get a parking ticket if I left my car in downtown Fullerton. You have to calculate your risks, see?

    • #18 by Greg on May 5, 2010

      Say WHAT?!?! You can’t leave a car there overnight? What’s a drunk to do?
      I suppose the law might be geared to stop overnight campers or people who just have to many cars and no place to park them. But it does raise a valid point.

  14. #19 by Johnny Donut on May 5, 2010

    Greg, you heard it right. The overnight parking ban contributes to the drunk driving problem in Fullerton.

    Ultimately there is nobody to blame but the drunk drivers themselves, but since the city insists on spreading the guilt around to third parties, they might as well own a little bit of it themselves.

    • #20 by Greg on May 5, 2010

      Ok, how about a bar-owners-paid valet service between 8PM and 2PM wherein patrons have to blow to get their car. Any cars not picked up in XXX time have to pay $XX. The drunks end up paying a small fee, maybe $10 or $20, the drunks don’t get their cars until they blow under a 0.08 BAC, money raised goes to offset the cost of the valet.

  15. #21 by Everybody Hates on May 5, 2010

    So now we can all get a piece of the action.

    Liberals should despise DUI checkpoints because they violate our civil rights

    Conservatives should despise DUI checkpoints because they are a waste of money

    Libertarians are already on board.

    So why are we still running these things?

  16. #22 by Greg on May 5, 2010

    MAD and those who make $$$ on overtime.

  17. #23 by Travis on May 5, 2010

    MADD should be pissed that drunks are driving all over town while most of the police force is standing around on a single block trying to impound cars for cash.

  18. #24 by Gilligan on May 5, 2010

    I remember watching a council meeting recently where MADD gave out some awards to several FPD officers and I remember that FPD had more more DUI arrest than any other OC police department except the CHP last year. Your right the drunks are all over town. It’s great to have such a fabulous downtown.

  19. #25 by Travis on May 5, 2010

    That’s great, Gilligan. Obviously they weren’t earning any high scores at the checkpoints.

  20. #26 by Gilligan on May 5, 2010

    Your comment was MADD should be pissed but I think they’re pleased with Fullerton’s efforts in removing drunk drivers from the roads. It’s a shame that you have such hatred towards the police with all your slanted and negative remarks. Most are pretty decent people.

  21. #27 by Travis on May 5, 2010

    I don’t hate cops at all. I’m just not afraid to call out bad policy.

  22. #28 by Krusty on May 6, 2010

    Bad policy ? What policy… The police department applies for a grant to the state and it is approved or not. Cities across the county and state do it every year.How many drunk drivers have these check points taken off the road,evidently not enough for you. I think uou would be singing a different tune if some one you cared about were killed.

  23. #29 by Travis on May 6, 2010

    Just like I said, Krusty. The state made him do it.

    Ignore the waste of paying 16 cops overtime to stand around and process one DUI every hour and half.

    Ignore the hundreds of innocent motorists and passengers who are stopped and questioned without cause.

    Ignore the drunk drivers scurrying around the rest of the city, avoiding your checkpoint.

    Face it, the case for DUI checkpoints are built on emotional pleas to fatten the wallets of public safety employees. They are ineffective and wrong.

    • #30 by Eric Fox on September 30, 2010

      YOU ARE JUST PLAIN IGNORANT.

  24. #31 by Greg on May 6, 2010

    Krusty-
    You are probably right about the death of loved ones creating a heightened sense of awareness about DUIs. Emotions aside and policy before us, how effective are they and at what expense? It would be far more valuable to have each of the sixteen cops waiting outside of the bars to nail the DUIs as they drive off the lot. That’s where the PD could make a huge impact. Plus they could observe the drivers stumbling to their cars. I would be willing to bet that each cop would catch at least one DUI each night. That’s 16 DUIs instead of 4! We have to look at sound policy that benefits the community without burdening our tax dollars.

  25. #32 by Farsical on May 6, 2010

    You guys should go down to the next DUI checkpoint and visit for a while. You will see a lot of cops standing around, drinking coffee and chatting with each other.

    The fact that they are all on overtime is just icing on the cake.

  26. #33 by Greg on May 6, 2010

    I think if the officers were reserves working for free as they do in other communities, it wouldn’t be a big deal and the DUI arrests would be the same.

    The only reason FPD doesn’t use FREE reserves is because of the union. If the reserves cost almost as much hourly, might as well use the full-timers. At least that has been the mindset in some departments.

    • #34 by Gilligan on May 6, 2010

      What do you mean that FPD doesn’t use FREE reserves? You have some bad information. FPD does have a few Reserve Officers that work for free but they also have other full time jobs that they get paid to do. They work a handful of hours a months for the city. It has nothing to do with the union.

      • #35 by Greg on May 6, 2010

        Gilligan, I stand corrected; I had old information. According to Sgt. Fred Casas, until the recent budget crisis hit, all 18 reserves were paid $22p/h. FPD reserves were among the first to take the pay cut. These are the guys (and maybe gals?) that are, in my opinion, the most noble of public servants. Let’s get these 18 reserves out there to work the DUI checkpoints if we must and keep the grant money to hire more reserves. I know it doesn’t work that way with grant money but we should do more to include volunteer police and fire reserves. Again, there are a lot of men and women who are academy trained and need to gain experience. Most are willing to work part-time for free, much like an internship.

  27. #36 by Verbatim on May 6, 2010

    I love the hypocrisy of a DUI Checkpoint’s legality in stopping people for no probable cause and the criticism on Arizona for asking a person legitimately detained for a drivers license or legal ID.

  28. #37 by Stan on May 10, 2010

    The actual intent of the Checkpoints is to inform drivers of drinking and driving. Most check points only catch 4 to 5 DUI’s as those are the ones too wasted to read the sign that says DUI & ID checkpoint ahead with an opportunity to avoid the checkpoint.
    Cars towed away are those driven by people with no drivers license or a suspended drivers license which also means that they have no insurance if they plow into another vehicle.
    I would be happy if only one drunk was arrested if that drunk was the one that would kill someone in an accident. No amount of money should be placed on putting a drunk driver in jail if it saves only one life.

    Also, California DUI checkpoints have to follow very stringent rules. The police department has to notify the media that it will be conducting a checkpoint and they have to have a set pattern of allowing so many cars through before they can stop a group of cars. You would also be surprised how many second and time Narcotics offenders are arrested, but those numbers seem to get lost in the story over just the DUI’s. Anyone who is actually stopped, arrested and/or has their car towed away is just too stupid or wasted to avoid the checkpoint in the first place.

  29. #38 by Eric Fox on September 30, 2010

    IT ONLY TAKES ONE DRUNK DRIVER TO KILL ONE OF YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS. I WELCOME THEM HAVING 30 OFFICERS OUT THERE DOING TWO DUI CHECK POINTS ARRESTING DRUNK DRIVERS. QUIT COMPLAINING AND LET THEM DO THEIR JOBS REGARDLESS IF THEY GET PAID OVERTIME OR STRAIGHT TIME. YOU SOUND LIKE A BUNCH OF IGNORANT UNEDUCATED PEOPLE, GROW UP!!!!!!

    • #39 by The Fullerton Harpoon on September 30, 2010

      Eric, the thought that you might actually be in charge of anything (remote possibility) is frightening.

      And please stop yelling.

  30. #40 by anonymous on January 19, 2011

    DUI’s are definitely a partial SCAM.

    The problem began when many states lowered their BAC limit from .10 to .08. .08 is the equivalent of 3-4 drinks at a bar for an average male around 180-200. Enough to make someone tipsy but still able to function behind the wheel. There are plenty of SOBER people who drive just as bad or worse than someone who blows a .08 to .09. Is small, its trivial. It is indeed meaningless.

    I’m not saying everyone should go out and blow a .36. But people who drink responsibly have just as much rights as those who do not drink. Especially when their only option- is to drive home and avoid an abusive situation from a supposed friend or spouse or preventing other altercations (bar fights, involuntary beatdowns and deaths) which could be worse than someone simply driving from a buzz. Police setup traps outside of bars and try to pressure those who are driving safely home.

    Part of the scam is related to Impounding and towing companies that local law enforcement contracts. When a township charges a $350 ‘administrative fee’ and will not disclose what the money actually goes to other than punching in a few things on a computer system, plus the tow company kickbacks on top of it: $150 + 25 per day ‘storage’. The DUI offender is basically being ripped off.

    If law enforcment was indeed worried about the ‘safety’ of people, they would not charge such outrageous fees to where the common person cannot afford to even get their car out, let alone the other fees that are associated with a DUI. People who have alcoholism have a DISEASE, they are not criminals.

    If law enforcement was worried about ‘safety’ the $350 administrative fees would partially go to the person’s rehabilitation.

    All the people who lost someone over a ‘drunk driver’ need to get over it. And instead of bitch about it- offer some help to those who need it.

    Death happens, God takes people when it is their time to go- blaming the drunk for the inevitable is not the answer. People who drink have just as much rights as people who do not drink.

    The easiest solution is for ALL AUTO MANUFACTURERS to install BAIID device equipment standard for any vehicle.

    • #41 by WTF on January 19, 2011

      I’ve read a lot of very stupid post here but this one has to be a top 10. This idiot’s statement to tell family members who lost someone over a drunk driver “to get over it” is completely insane. God didn’t take their loved one the actions of the drunk driver did………………………….you idiot

      • #42 by Anonymous on January 19, 2011

        That was pretty harsh!

        I think the checkpoints don’t make a big dent but to skirt responsibility and say the disease FORCED them to drive drunk is wrong. The drunk did it and was helped along by bartenders who don’t care how drunk you get so long as you pay and tip well.

  31. #43 by gagoonies on March 25, 2011

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xbp6umQT58A

    All cops are parasites.

    There will be no mercy for swine during the revolution.

  32. #44 by fullerton lover on August 9, 2011

    These checkpoints can be de-railed and stopped if enough civic minded people would have the fortitude to start forewarning motorists by manning large signs placed before the checkpoints warning motorists that their civil rights are about to be taken and to avoid the shakedown by using an alternative route, otherwise proceed with caution. This would require a co-ordinated effort with others standing by and video taping the inevitable encounter with the police who aren’t going to like you scaring the unsuspecting sheep away from their trap/trough. What are they going to do arrest you for carrying a poster board?

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