The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has approved funding for the LA County Sheriff's Department to conduct DUI checkpoints and use extra patrol in 2014. The county was granted $2.5 million in funding to set up checkpoints and put officers on duty in order to make more DUI arrests.
These measures are nothing new. Los Angeles police set up checkpoints and add additional enforcement all the time, particularly during holiday weekends and other time period when people are more likely to drink and drive.
The funds will also go toward training officers on standardized field testing procedure and drug and alcohol recognition. These are skills that the officers will need to evaluate drivers for signs of alcohol or drug abuse.
In Los Angeles County there have been 11 DUI related deaths in the past 5 years. Though the goal is always to get that number 20, this is less than three deaths per year. The question whether DUI is that big of a threat to drivers or if police enforcement is so good, it keeps these numbers low is a difficult one to address. Keeping people safe is very important, but $2.5 million is a large amount of money, especially considering how many arrests each checkpoint actually leads to.
Take for example, a checkpoint in West Hollywood that took place in September from 7:00 pm to 3:00 am. During that eight hour period, over 1,700 drivers were checked. Of those, there were 4 DUI arrest made (one for alcohol and 3 for marijuana). There was also one arrested for narcotics possession.
There is no statistic on how much one of these checkpoints costs, but it likely required several officers received a few hours of overtime pay as well as other costs for setting up the checkpoint. If police really wanted to stop drunk driving, that money could be put to use to start some sort of free taxi service or shuttle program for late night drinkers to get home safely.