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Some valid questions about Lodi's DUI checkpoints

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Posted: Saturday, April 2, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 9:59 am, Sat Apr 2, 2011.

Are DUI checkpoints worth the time and money? Our recent front page story asked that question, and it is a fair one.

Lodi police have been running the checkpoints through a grant from the state Office of Traffic Safety. Lodi gets $102,000 to operate the checkpoints and so-called saturation patrols.

The goal is worthy: Get drunken drivers off the streets of Lodi.

The reality, though, has raised several issues, including:

  • The checkpoints are expensive, drawing 14 officers, all on overtime, for an estimated cost of $4,400 per checkpoint.
  • The results are rather unimpressive. The checkpoints have produced an average of 2.8 DUI arrests each — about $1,500 per arrest. (That may be in part because many local bar owners learn quickly of the checkpoints and alert their customers.)
  • In contrast, the checkpoints have caused many cars to be towed and impounded because their drivers are unlicensed. The average has been 20 cars per checkpoint. Most of these drivers aren't inebriated, just unlucky. They have to cough up big bucks — one local car owner paid $1,600 — to get their vehicle back. And they have to wait 30 days for that privilege. No doubt some have lost not just a car, but a job. A young car owner told reporter Fernando Gallo that she and her boyfriend had to walk home because the police denied her use of a cell phone to call for a ride after her Honda was towed away. That doesn't strike us as the most courteous reaction.
  • So-called saturation patrols are more efficient at catching DUI drivers than checkpoints, but Lodi police have to run the checkpoints as part of the deal with the state safety office.

Is this a well-intended program that's too expensive and intrusive? Are taxpayers getting their money's worth with this?

Are the checkpoints a sledgehammer slaying flies?

We've learned since our story appeared that Lodi police do not, in fact, have to request driver's licenses of those who go through the checkpoints. Maybe changing that policy is worth exploring. After all, the aim is to arrest intoxicated motorists, not deprive Lodians of their cars, right? The impoundments seem like a sort of collateral damage.

Beyond that, perhaps the traffic safety office should look at shifting resources toward the saturation patrols that Lodi police say are more effective.

Granted, driving without a license isn't to be condoned.

And getting drunken drivers off the streets of Lodi is a worthy goal.

But so is putting taxpayer dollars to the very best use.

— The Lodi News-Sentinel

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Mike Adams posted at 8:49 am on Mon, Apr 25, 2011.

    Mike Adams Posts: 1560

    Sorry, I just found this.

    Did Mr. Walker confirm that the Mr. Marcos Martinez in the DUI/All Cars Impounded Checkpoint is the same Mr. Marcos Martinez he points out is the one the "SWAT" team was involved with? Both first and last names are common.

    There is no mention in the car impounded story of Mr. Marcos Martinez being arrested.
    There is no mention in the car impounded story of Mr. Marcos Martinez being out on bail.
    There is no mention in the car impounded story of Mr. Marcos Martinez escaping from custody.

    "Thank you all police officers for what you do and who you have to put up with!!!!"
    If their job is so stressful, perhaps they should look for work in a different field. Maybe UPS can use them. Similar skill set...finding addresses, knocking on doors, that kind of stuff. What are police officers trained to do once they get out of the life, like retiring at age 50 (3 @ 50)? From what I've seen, and I know quite a few police officers (retired and still active), are employed as a handiman, construction, low skill level stuff, like that not requiring a HS diploma.

    Thank you all police officers for what you do and who you have to put up with!!!!

  • Henry Adams posted at 5:31 pm on Fri, Apr 8, 2011.

    Henry Adams Posts: 6

    Mr. Walker,

    If the LNS had half of the investigative skills that you display in your post, they should have caught this. (If in fact this is true).

    Had the LNS spent less time bashing the LPD, perhaps they may have caught that one.

    Interesting to see where this goes..

  • Robert Walker posted at 5:03 pm on Fri, Apr 8, 2011.

    Robert Walker Posts: 10

    I don't understand why people are upset with the police who are doing their jobs by taking unlicensed drivers off the roadway. These checkpoints find unlicensed drivers who either don't have a license to begin with or have their license suspended. Being caught for DUI can be a cause to this suspension per 14601.2 CVC. We should be thanking the police for getting these people off the streets and making our driving privledge safer.

    The News Sentinel felt it necessary to report poor Estella Moreno and Marcos Martinez as victims of an impounded car from a checkpoint (story from 3/19/11). Ms. Moreno allowed him to drive. If its her car then she's suppose to check that he has a valid license. If she's sick to her stomach why is she out instead of being home. Must not have been that sick. And did the Sentinel happen to check and see of any prior stories with Mr. Marcos Martinez. Well, you can find one on him from 02-18-11 (http://www.lodinews.com/news/article_e217c5b1-c6da-5cbc-b10c-0c53d912b007.html). Thats right Mr. Martinez had a SWAT hit done on his house by the Lodi PD SWAT team because Mr. Martinez was identified as being involved in an armed robbery of a local liquor store. WOW, doesn't sound like he's much of a victim anymore. As for Estella Moreno, maybe she should dump that piece of trash.

    The argument has been made that innocent people are being punished for an unlicensed driver being caught in their vehicle. Well, if you loan your car out maybe you should ensure they have a valid license. If they took the car without your permission, then you can report your vehicle as stolen to the police. Seems to me that the Sentinel is printing out negativity towards police. Thank you all police officers for what you do and who you have to put up with!!!!

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 11:16 am on Wed, Apr 6, 2011.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    Interestingly enough Mr. Jacobs, for some strange reason the balance of your 9:37 a.m. post did not appear on my monitor. There's one other point I'd like to make.

    You'll be surprised to learn that even on forums like this, emotions do tend to run high and folks do get angry. If you really expect people to control themselves to your liking you'll very rarely be able to "enlighten" anyone. No, you shouldn't tolerate personal attacks and off-topic nonsense (that's what the "Report" button is for included with each posting), but there is a strange sense of satisfaction as an argument draws to a close and you realize that you did in fact, "get 'em!" even if they don't admit defeat. And that IS what this forum is designed to provide for us, Mr. Jacobs. Otherwise, what's the point?

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 10:29 am on Wed, Apr 6, 2011.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    Mr. Jacobs, your 9:37 a.m. post still reveals someone who simply doesn't understand the rules of the road on this forum or any other "blog." While you may be correct that "the post [you] made did not concern [me]," this in no way shape or form means that others don't have the right to comment about it. Oh, and if you’re looking for discourse without sarcasm or the like, you’ve come to the wrong place. It seems to me that you’ve neglected to thoroughly understand the “Rules of Conduct” that accompanies every column, story, editorial and letter-to-the-editor that is published on this site. If you had given the rules even a cursory review, that would have clued you in.

    Most of the time we’re civil with our comments, although there are a select few who get out of line. If you hang out here long enough you’ll be able to identify them quickly enough. There are those who think I am a terrible guy as well, although I will vehemently disagree with them at every turn; I just like a good argument.

    Happy blogging!

  • Robert Jacobs posted at 9:37 am on Wed, Apr 6, 2011.

    Robert Jacobs Posts: 298

    I'm not sure why you weighed in on a post I made to someone else? Perhaps that was a friend of yours, or perhaps you just like a good sparing match or debate as you put it. What ever the case, the post I made did not concern you.

    But I will say good job Jerome, you came to the rescue and put me in my place.

    Auh yes a thick skin, I doubt I'll need it, because that would indicate I care what anyone in this forum thinks about me or my posts. My posts which are researched, are fact, and not aimless words strung together like so many others in forums like this.

    However, if I do decided to partake and or if someone were to ask me specifically about something I've posted and they could accurately articulate that to me without sarcasm or the like, I "might" just explain my position or enlighten that person. I may of course choose not to, because I usually do not feel the need to explain myself. My time is important so I decide who or whom I answer, and when.

    I usually do not answer anyone who is being argumentative, attacking, or just angry because of something I've posted. Anyone who displays this kind of behavior only confirms they have no self-control and haven't developed mentally and emotionally.

    As it is, I stand by what I said in yesterdays post, I know the difference between debate and attack even if you do not sir. And I most certainly do not agree with your take on fair game and or acquiring a thick skin, which only confirms what I said above and in yesterdays post.
    Regards, Robert

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 11:06 pm on Tue, Apr 5, 2011.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    Mr. Jacobs, as I was interested in your disagreement with Mr. Paglia, I'm having trouble understanding just why you took him to task in your 5:43 p.m. post today. In the one post of his that addresses you specifically, I don't see where he's attacked you for posting something he didn't agree with. Sure, he's boldly challenging some statements you made in an earlier contribution of yours, but I don't see any "attack" on you personally.

    And while I certainly agree with your sentiment that if he (or anyone else for that matter) doesn't like what you post, he can stop reading them as I've had to make that pronouncement myself on several occasions, perhaps you don't really understand the purpose of this forum.

    Yes, you have every right to "say" what you want and then move along. But please don't expect us to simply ignore something that we find worthy of further discussion - even if you DO wish us to ignore you. This is Public Domain stuff out here, Mr. Jacobs, and once we click the "Post Comment" button there at the bottom right of this little input box, we're all fair game. Sometimes we all need to be reminded of that and perhaps consider growing a little thicker skin.

    Good luck and happy debating!

  • Robert Jacobs posted at 5:43 pm on Tue, Apr 5, 2011.

    Robert Jacobs Posts: 298

    Kevin Paglia , Firstly, I can, and I will post (within reason) anything I so choose to post just like you do. The difference between you and I, is that I would never attack you for posting something I did not agree with.

    And finally, if you don't like what I post, stop reading them.

    You have nice day now ya hear...

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 1:13 pm on Tue, Apr 5, 2011.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    That's a very good question Mr. Raines (it is "Mr." is it not?) - and I followed your lead with some of my posts.

    As to whether the moderators here pay much attention to the conversations I would say that based upon my own experience they do not, unless the actual author of the column, editorial or letter takes notice and thinks it's wise to do so. My advice to you would be to write a letter of your own in response to this piece and present your questions as succinctly as possible. At the very least you'll receive some interaction here on this little forum.

    The sad thing about these LNS “editorials” is we’re never provided with the actual identity of the guy or gal who wrote it. Just signing it, “The Lodi News-Sentinel” really isn’t good enough. What do you say, Mr./Ms. “Editor?” Would you care to reveal yourself?

  • Chris Raines posted at 12:16 pm on Tue, Apr 5, 2011.

    Chris Raines Posts: 2

    The editorial writer had a "valid question." So did I, several days ago. My valid question was why they didn't do any research before writing the editorial? They raised questions that have been answered before, but they never checked. Lodi News Sentinel - do you ever read these comments or do you just choose to ignore them when you are caught with your journalistic pants down?

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 2:57 pm on Mon, Apr 4, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2106

    Mr. Jacobs, do you believe that people who speed shouldn't get tickets? Should drunk drivers not be taken off the roads? If a person does something against the law is it the cops fault or the person doing it. Since you think the cops are thugs with badges I must assume you think people shouldn't be punished for doing something wrong.

    If you treat the cops like the enemy, then they are. Every interaction i have had with the cops (I'm no angel) I remain calm and realize that they have either caught me doing something I shouldn't have been (speeding) or there was just a case of mistaken identity (long story).

    Attitude displayed by "most" law enforcement towards "most" people? Please identify the study which supports you're arguments. Or is this just a random guess to support your mistrust of those who have caught you doing something you should not have been doing.

    i know some cops have attitudes. They have to deal with people that think they are the enemy all day long. It is one reason I didn't look into law enforcement as a career way back, because I wouldn't put up with that attitude.

    Are the teachers at fault when your child flunks too?

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 10:51 am on Mon, Apr 4, 2011.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    Mr. Jacobs, the driver of the vehicle in question was "unlicensed."

  • Robert Jacobs posted at 10:09 am on Mon, Apr 4, 2011.

    Robert Jacobs Posts: 298

    Common we all know the police don't recognize the general public as people but the enemy. You can tell by the attitude that is usually displayed toward most people and by most law enforcement.
    This is about them against us, and anyone with half a brain knows it.

    Secondly, when you are stopped by the police at a check point, there are things you can do. You do not have to answer their questions for one. All you have to do is to provide a drivers license, insurance card, and registration. When they ask you were your going or where you are coming from you can just calmly state I do not wish to have a conversation here is my drivers license.

    I don't know what happened with the person in this article about getting their car towed. The article isn't clear as to why these people had their Honda towed. If they didn't have a drivers license in their possession that would be much different than not having a valid drivers license at all. Regardless, the police are not your friends, they are not out there working for you. They are trying to catch drunk drivers and any other criminal offense they can find.

    Some of the information found in this comment was gathered here: http://www.roadblock.org/roadblocks/ca.htm

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 7:06 pm on Sun, Apr 3, 2011.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    There is also a great deal of interest being paid to drivers who might be distracted through the use of cell phones or texting while driving. What about the driver who’s distracted because he/she knows full well that their license is either expired or they don’t even have one? Clearly they’re more concerned about being stopped by a cop than making sure they’re driving safely.

    The author of this piece claims that those stopped for licensing issues are merely “unlucky” and then blithely suggests that “driving without a license isn't to be condoned.” Really? Is that what we’re supposed to be learning from what these cops are doing at these checkpoints? When anyone drives without a valid license they’re breaking the law! There’s no gray area here. In addition, those without licenses are usually without any form of insurance. What about the “collateral damage” that this creates when someone is “unlucky” enough to be hit by an unlicensed/uninsured driver? Everyone’s rates go up.

    I agree with Chris Raines – the LNS didn’t do its job with this pathetic example of journalism.

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 6:50 pm on Sun, Apr 3, 2011.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    Someone at the Lodi News-Sentinel believes that “[t]he results are rather unimpressive (because) [t]he checkpoints have produced an average of 2.8 DUI arrests each — about $1,500 per arrest.”

    What I would find impressive is how many lives might have been saved each night when nearly three drunks were yanked from behind the wheels of their vehicles. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to accurately quantify things that do not happen. But what we do know is the pain and misery that accompanies the death or maiming of someone at the hands of a drunk driver. I would suggest that whatever editor pulled this story together track down the mother, father, sister, brother, husband, wife or close friends of someone killed by a drunk driver. Publish the results of those interviews and I think we’d all be rather happy with the “$1,500 per arrest.”

  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 6:42 pm on Sun, Apr 3, 2011.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2370

    Lee Gill suggests, "Maybe it is time the government steps in to regulate the practices of the tow companies."

    Oh sure, that's what's needed - more governmental interference. Gill also seems to think that these tow companies should have "sympathy" for car owners. Why? They're in business to make money. Unless they're violating the law with their towing/impounding practices, then the onus is upon each one of us to ensure that they never capture one of our vehicles.

    This isn't unlike banks that charge $37.00 for each bounced check or over limit ATM charge. For both situations the solution is so simple: don't take risks with your vehicles or your money. I've had the same checking account with a debit card for nearly four years. During that time I've hardly written a check opting instead to do most of my banking either by use of the debit card or through the Internet. Since the first day until now I've paid absolutely $0.00 in overdraft fees. But the only way I can do that is to make absolutely sure I know how much money I have in my account at all times.

    As for my vehicle, I never loan it to anyone; I pay my registration before it becomes due and I make sure my license and insurance are up-to-date. It's called taking personal responsibility for my own life - not expecting anyone else or the government to do it for me.

    And we really need to start teaching our children these things long before they become adults.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 10:33 pm on Sat, Apr 2, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    These "checkpoints are nothing less than racial profiling by LPD. Why the need for motorcycle patrol officers stationed at streets before entering the checkpoint areas? Why are these extra officers needed for these DUI "checkpoints"? And at night, waiting like vultures with lights off parked aroung the corner from the main road to monitor those who turn early to go around the checkpoints because they don't want to participate for reasons of their own or simply don't want to wait in line for 15 or 20 minutes, especially minorities who are the most likely to be cited and towed for other than DUI. And usually 5 tow trucks stationed in a parking area hidden from view of the vehicle traffic approaching these DUI "checkpoints". And the area placement and dates of these DUI "checkpoints" to avoid the early evening wine events that last until 9 or 10PM, when the overimbibers are on the loose. Judging by the high cost and few actual DUI arrests of these "checkpoints", they either need to be scheduled to coincide with the heavy wine tasting and related events and in the areas of these events and not mostly on the eastside, targeting the poor and minority neighborhoods. Saturation patrols would be a better solution, less costly with fewer officers and rotated by districts. That would also mean fewer less alert officers going to work on the next shift with little, or even no sleep. Why would CDOT continue to allow these DUI "checkpoints" to continue with a cost of $4,000+ per DUI "checkpoint" and netting less than 3 DUI a checkpoint? Maybe a good investigative reporter could come up with some figures showing the distribution of the fines and tow costs and storage of vehicles of both LPD and the tow companies themselves? But be careful, Mr. Gallo, the Sentinel is assumed to have fired their own reporters for uncovering too much truthful information. I would hope our new interim police chief will make some changes in the way these DUI "checkpoints" are conducted, especially the dates, to coincide with heavy drinking events, and the areas where they are set up, and not favorably on the poor and minority eastside.

  • Chris Raines posted at 1:56 pm on Sat, Apr 2, 2011.

    Chris Raines Posts: 2

    You would think that a newspaper editorial board would at least do a modicum of research on a subject before taking a stance on a subject? Apparently not the Lodi News Sentinel.

    It states the results of DUI checkpoints are unimpressive. By what measure? Did they try to find out how the effectiveness of these tactics are measured? No, they took the easy route and jumped to a conclusion. The wrong conclusion.

    DUI checkpoints have been proven through numerous studies from across the country and around the world. They are handily brought together in a meta-study done by the Centers for Disease Control (http://www.thecommunityguide.org/mvoi/AID/sobrietyckpts.html). This study shows that, on average, the continuous use of sobriety checkpoints can lower DUI related deaths by 20 percent, even up to 26 percent. This is by virtue of their high detterent effect, not their high enforcement effect. People see them, hear about them, read about them, and are further convinced that drunk driving is dangerous, socially unnaceptable, illegal, and that law enforcement is aggressively on the look out.

    Satuartion patrols, on the other hand, are excellent at catching drunks in the acting of driving. But they have very little deterrent value.

    Two different tactics, both good, both being used. Saturation patrols are good at catching drunks. Checkpoints are the best option available for saving lives.

    There, Lodi News Sentinel, I've done the research you should have done. What's your answer?

  • Lee Gill posted at 12:59 pm on Sat, Apr 2, 2011.

    Lee Gill Posts: 8

    I don't think that anybody should be financially screwed for making a mistake. If you let someone drive your car that doesn't have a license or the proper insurance your car will be impounded. I'm fine with that, but these tow companies have no sympathy for the car owner. A lot of people could not afford to pay $1,500.00 or more in fees. A lot of these families live from one paycheck to the other. The tow companies don't want to create a payment plan for low income families to pay for their impounded cars because there is less profit for them. I just think that if you mess up you should be punished but not screwed over financially. Maybe it is time the government steps in to regulate the practices of the tow companies.

    My cars are insured. I have had a license for 14 years with no traffic infractions. I obey the laws. However, I have seen the financial ruin on families that have made mistakes. I remember when I was in high school, a friend of mine took his mothers car without her permission. Got pulled over. Lost the car and the mother had no way of paying to get that car out of impound. She was really screwed as she had worked in Stockton.

    Unfortunately the unintelligent people outnumber the smart people. There are a lot people (mostly the young people) that think that it is okay to bend or break the laws so long as you're not hurting anyone. In a lot of ways I blame TV for that. I don't know how often I see a television hero (often a cop) breaking the law. On television it seems almost glamorous and that can be influential on young minds.

    I have known some self destructive people. Someone who couldn't stay out of jail and is now in prison. And I am related to someone that has multiple DUI's. He has finally learned a very expensive lesson. I have known people with drug addiction. I have known people that for whatever reason are self destructive one way or another. People that drive without insurance or a license are also being self destructive because they know if they get caught they are really gonna pay for it but would rather take a chance.

    I would think that with today's technology and education that our society as a whole would get smarter. Or maybe that's just a dream.

  • steven brinks posted at 11:56 am on Sat, Apr 2, 2011.

    steven brinks Posts: 2

    I have been reading the Lodi News Sentinal for many years now. I have noticed recently that the paper seems to have taken a biased stance against the police. I would like to know what started this whole story? I don't think I have ever seen the paper publish an article looking for people who have had run ins with the police department. What exactly are you trying to find? How many responses did you get? Did you think that the people that are going to respond are going to say " Yeah I was driving without a licence it's my fault. the Police did a good job". The line " Lodi get $102,000 to operate the check points and so-called saturation patrols." So-called saturation patrols? Tell me that line doesn't have an undertone to it. Then the statement "We've learned since our story appeared that Lodi police do not, in fact, have to request driver's licenses of those who go through the checkpoints." Learned from who? I believe a Lodi Police Offcier said in a pravious article they had to check for licences per the grant they obtained. Is the paper calling the Officer a liar? I would like to know, who wrote the editioral? Is an editor or reporter is not comfotable putting their name on their publishing? Is this the stance of the entire paper? ........

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 8:00 am on Sat, Apr 2, 2011.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2106

    Sometimes it is just a name that throws people. Calling them DUI checkpoints implies that it is only the intoxicated who are being looked for. When the programs started then maybe that was a good name. But in this era of people thinking that laws apply to everyone else I think it is time for a name change. Instead of a DUI checkpoint the new name should be TCV checkpoints, Traffic Code Violation checkpoints. That is, after all what they are and then the general public would not be so confused by there only being a few drunks taken off the road and understand that a wider net is being tossed out.

    And I also agree with the belief that the TCV check points should be done on the west side as well.


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