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Police: DUI checkpoint planned this weekend in Citrus Heights

Citrus Heights, DUI checkpoint
File photo, a traffic sign notifies drivers of a DUI checkpoint in Citrus Heights. // CH Sentinel

Citrus Heights police announced Thursday that a DUI and driver’s license checkpoint will be conducted by the department’s Traffic Unit at “an undisclosed location” in the city this weekend.

In a news release issued by Sgt. Brian Fritsch, police said the checkpoint would be held between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m., beginning Friday night, Feb. 19. Police said officers will be looking for signs of alcohol and drug impairment, as well as checking drivers for proper licensing.

Additionally, police said specially trained officers will be on scene to evaluate those suspected of drug-impaired driving, which can include many prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications, according to the news release. Police said drugged driving now accounts for “a growing number of impaired driving crashes.”

CHPD is known to hold regularly publicized checkpoints within Citrus Heights city limits, focusing on areas with a history of collisions and DUI arrests. The department says it announces DUI operations in advance because “the deterrent effect of DUI checkpoints is a proven resource in reducing the number of persons killed and injured in alcohol or drug involved crashes.”

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A 2006 study paid for by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which provides funding for checkpoints around the nation, reported that alcohol-related crashes dropped significantly in various jurisdictions, after increased, high-publicity DUI campaigns were conducted.

An example included in the study’s 108-page report found alcohol-related fatal crashes dropped by 50 percent in Fresno from 2002 to 2003, after Fresno Police “more than doubled” special enforcement activity. Overall alcohol-related crashes in Fresno dropped from 444 in 2002 down to 333 in 2003, an average drop of 25 percent.

[Document: NHTSA_DUI_Case_Studies_2006.pdf]

In Citrus Heights last year there were 73 DUI-related collisions, according to statistics previously provided to The Sentinel by Sgt. Jason Baldwin. He said DUI collisions in the city last year dropped by 19 percent compared to 2014, with DUI arrests also dropping from 385 down to 340.

Out of six fatal roadway collisions in Citrus Heights last year, police determined alcohol was involved on the part of the driver in at least three of the collisions, and two involved alcohol on the part of pedestrians who were hit and killed.

In prior news releases about local checkpoints, police have emphasized the “preventable nature of drunk driving” accidents, advising those planning to enjoy a drink to designate a sober driver ahead of time, or utilize options like a taxi or Uber. Police have also advised sober drivers to call 9-1-1 to report drunk drivers, and to take the keys of someone who’s been drinking and “help them get home safely.”

[Also on The Sentinel: Citrus Heights Police: crime reduced by 5% in 2015]

Funding for CHPD’s checkpoints comes from a California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) grant, through the NHTSA. Police said last November CHPD had received a $236,190 OTS grant to help fund a year-long program of safety-related efforts, including DUI checkpoints and distracted driving enforcement.

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