Rohnert Park Police DUI Checkpoint Screens 1,000 Cars, Makes One DUI Arrest

After 1,050 cars to pass through Friday night’s checkpoint at East Cotati Ave. and Santero Way with just one arrest and one citation, police say residents are getting the message.

Rohnert Park Police set up their latest DUI checkpoint over Labor Day weekend, and its results raised an interesting question: Is the checkpoint a bust if it yields just one arrest, or has it successfully deterred residents from drinking and driving?

Police Sgt. Aaron Johnson said 1,050 cars passed through the checkpoint on eastbound East Cotati Ave. at Santero Way between 7 p.m. and 2 a.m. Friday night. Of those, 956 drivers were screened for signs of DUI and to have their licenses checked. Of those, 20 drivers were sent to a nearby parking area for further evaluation, Johnson said.

Police arrested a Cotati man on suspicion of driving under the influence, and cited another for driving on a suspended license. One vehicle was towed from the scene.

“We saw more taxi cabs come through the checkpoint than we have in the past,” Johnson said. “It is nice to see, and hopefully drivers are getting the message.”

Johnson said more than 21 local residents have been injured in DUI-related incidents in the past three years. 

Funding for the checkpoint was provided to Rohnert Park DPS by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reminding everyone to continue to work together to bring an end to these tragedies. 

Greg Burton September 03, 2013 at 12:10 PM
Well, the police will just have to start using agent provocateur "drunk people; policemen dressed up to look like drunk people, in order to continue to justify the increased budget expense of running these unnecessary DUI check-points, and the continue infringement of ordinary citizens' constitutional rights!
Dorie McKay September 03, 2013 at 01:30 PM
Greg, I like your point, here.. made me laugh. YES, people are 'getting the message' per this article. While I truely believe we all need to be safe and sound, they are really tough out there, a thousand plus cars stopped, that's huge. RP-Cotati Cops swarm our small area and focal point is downtown Cotati area often. Can't tell you the amt of times I've seen ck points. And, cars towed. It saddens me, to see a person's car towed, after a bust, and I truely wonder, just how impaired the arrested person is. I believe, if they just smell it on you, you're screwed. I don't go out on any 3 day holiday wkend, don't drink and drive. EVER. I stay home, safe and sound, and do something simple w/ my friends and neighbors, and have peace. It just is NOT WORTH the bother on any holiday wkend to put oneself through that and puts a damper on having any fun going out. And if one wants to get out of the house, enjoy some great local music which Cotati is notoriously great for, share a cab and split up the cost, and relax. Point being: DONT GIVE THEM A REASON TO ARREST US. We can still party and go out to eat and dance, and mix and mingle in peace long as we maintain some sense of protecting ourselves by cabbing it. Sams Cab is one great 24/7 fast service. I love them, they're family run team and are fun to chat up, and are a decent cab company. Very cool. Would like to ask you here Greg, how you see the check points as, 'infringement of ordinary citizens' constitutional rights.' Your view on that. Do you feel it is unusual harassment and intimidation to us? By the constant barage of ck points and the huge amt of that done? Please explain.. Anyone else got any opinions on this topic?? Please share your thoughts.. thanks.
Gordon Wagner September 03, 2013 at 01:47 PM
Here's an interesting article by an attorney on the "DUI exception to the Constitution": http://www.duicentral.com/dui/the-dui-exception/ This kind of dragnet would be illegal -- except under the guise of a DUI checkpoint. How is it that an *exception* can be made? There is no "reasonable cause" in a dragnet type of search. So why isn't this kind of thing illegal? "...and cited another for driving on a suspended license. " Well, if it's a DRAGNET set up for DUIs, then that fellow ought to get himself an attorney. This kind of quasi-legal police operation is not supposed to be a fishing expedition. Driving on a suspended license, Heaven forfend. I hope they checked everyone for overdue library books, too. And impure thoughts. I hope they used the impure thought detector.
Dorie McKay September 03, 2013 at 02:18 PM
It is based on saving people's lives, and keeping people safe. They can do anything they want to do, and they do. The reasonable cause, is avoiding death, maimed bodies and injuries. And it is the law. Once it is the law, it isn't like an overdue library book as that is hardly life threatening. We cannot elude the law. Now, I do believe that impairment varies from person to person; in that, a person who had say, 2 drinks in one hour, then leaves, is probably not impaired. But if a person has had a hard day, is sleep deprived, hasn't eaten enough, or is stressed out, his or her ability to pass the field test, or drive well is probably impaired. And? I believe one drink an hour, and stopping at 2, tops... would have a person under the .08% limit. However, the 'reasonable cause' gets iffy if one is not their level best once field tested. Even if they pass the breathelizer, an officer still can take them in, just based on that flunking the field test alone. The penalty is phenomenal. Huge fine, car impounded, paying PD to get a piece of paper from them before getting car out of impoundment; then paying for impoundment and towing costs; going to court for sentencing, going to DUI school between 10 wks and 18 mo's on a first offense, doubled insurance costs, (minus a collision) on a first offense, having it on record for TEN years, being forced to take time to attend DUI classes which one has to pay for as well, and a zero tolerance law which means, even if stopped and under the legal limit, you are arrested AGAIN, due to having a first offense. Your blemished driving record follows you everywhere, in every single state. If you are stopped w/o a lic, they run a ck to see if u have any past violations nationwide. They ck that anyway right there in the cruiser on the spot before taking you to jail. All that for one night of fun out?? NOT WORTH IT PEOPLE! You are looking at: over 6K at minimum for this mess, and it will destroy your income/savings/ and affect your life to squeeze all of that in your otherwise busy life being a person trying to just get by unless you have the money to throw around to get an atty, and that's another cost, and that doesn't change the ABL you took, so an atty is WORTHLESS. For atty's, it is ALL ABOUT MONEY. You will still be convicted regardless. You won't get off the hook. Many a good person has lost their jobs over getting a DUI. My son had a great HVAC apprenticeship and would have been a journeyman by now, but he got stupid, and drank and drove, and got busted, lost his entire career as his job had him driving a company van. I had warned him, "whatever YOU DO.. DON'T EVEN drink and drive now that you've found something you really like," but he did not listen. He wound up going from $25 apprenticing, to working up to making $50-$75 an hr, to taking some crappy job paying him $13 an hour. They fired him and he lost his goal minded career. This happened in San Mateo County, so it is not just here in RP-Cotati N. Bay, it is EVERYWHERE. Again, it is simply not WORTH THE RISK.
Gordon Wagner September 03, 2013 at 02:25 PM
The "DUI exemption" is a bizarre sidestep from the Constitution. Agreed, don't drink and drive. But the very notion of a "DUI checkpoint" is absurd and illegal. Yet MADD has coerced courts into allowing such things to take place.
Dorie McKay September 03, 2013 at 04:20 PM
Gordon, I read the long article, but skipped over the explicite details of the old/newer model breath machines but got the gist of it, and the interesting case points made. However, if a "DUI check point" is "absurd and illegal, what means is there else to keep impaired drivers from killing other drivers or pedestrians? There is obviously, no other way but to ck point us. Illegal??? I don't know about that. Yes, I know since MADD there's been a major shift in fatalities, going down and convictions going up. But think about it this way: what if, we had NO PD check points at all, (hypothetically) IMAGINE the risks people would take; and imagine the lawlessness and deaths caused. IMAGINE: losing someone you love to the senselessness of a person driving in a black out and someone's life is over, forever. A person arrested for a DUI, (I 'm not talking about 2 wines w/ dinner, I'm talking about truely impaired drunk driving) and anyone, whether it is 2 wines or 2 fifths lets say, is considered a criminal, a life threatening criminal and treated as a potential voluntarily manslaughter case. Not INvolunatary manslaughter, as once deemed, due to the DECISION to DRINK AND DRIVE is considered a voluntary offense, even if no death or accident occurred due to the POSSIBLE outcome, of it happening. It is considered on the same realm of one waving a gun around, in public, threatening to shoot innocent people, even if the trigger is not pulled. The threat of death due to drunk driving is enough for them to crack down harder and harder and they will crack down even more. Just wait and see when our Casino opens, as people USUALLY drink and gamble, and arrests will definitely go up. It's a given. And will be a primo spot for arrests when people drive out of the Casino parking lot, especially if they've lost money and are upset, they'll go have a few more rounds possibly, and what worries me, is this being a danger for us. Not the particulars of some breath machine, but real world danger for us locals. I saw on the news this morn whereby a woman was run over by someone in a Rolls Royce and killed instantly on the street. A life can end in seconds. The person in the Royce did not stop. This tells me, this driver was probably very drunk, and panic stricken fleeing the scene, plus how could she or he, not see a person unless he/she were not drunk? Life is precious and should be respected by us all and for all people. Drunk driving is a very selfish thing to do. Driving is a privledge not a right. No crazy inaccurate dumb machines in the article would ever be needed if people didn't touch a DROP and drive. All of this jury trial stuff, DA/PD cops, courts all is preventable. SO much simpler to get a designated driver, or cab it, and leave the car at HOME. SO SIMPLE it is a NO brainer, and the ramifications of drunk driving are beyond complex, they're life altering.
Gordon Wagner September 03, 2013 at 04:48 PM
Again, I am not suggesting anyone drink and drive. Or drink and derive, if there are any mathematicians reading this. My point is that EVEN IF PUPPIES AND KITTENS ARE HARMED there is a red flag regarding any "exemption" to the Constitution. And that "dragnet" style DUI checkpoints are very highly suspicious.
Dorie McKay September 03, 2013 at 05:51 PM
Gordon, I understand. Point well made. Thanks.
Ben Richardson September 04, 2013 at 08:24 AM
Instead of checkpoints, why not just stake out the source? Watch the parking lots of bars etc. from 10 pm to 2 am and get the low hanging fruit stumbling in the dark as they leave. But no, we can't piss off the tax paying business man who is selling the booze can we?
James Smith September 04, 2013 at 05:01 PM
Just so you all know. California law says that during these DUI checkpoints they must have a sign stating there is a checkpoint ahead and drivers must be given a turnoff street if they would like to avoid it. Police by law are not allowed to follow you when you turn off, unless you do something stupid like run over a curb or burnout. But, beware. Side streets are littered with police driving back and forth. I work in news and have covered these things. Look it up if you don't believe me. Let them run their checkpoints and get the idiots off the streets.
Dorie McKay September 04, 2013 at 05:56 PM
To James, I want you to know, that a few yrs ago, I was driving down Rohnert Park Expressway, and IN BETWEEN State Farm dr and Country Club Drive, they had a check point. There was NO turn off before State Farm Dr. The expressway narrowed to one lane, there was a red sign up after State farm intersection stating check point, the cones on st forced us to that one lane. So the radius was one long block and being stuck and unable to turn right or left. I was stopped, checked and let go. It was around Christmas time. They did not stop every single car; it was a random choice by RP PD to decide whom to inspect. I had no idea that it is against the law to not have a turn off street.
Dorie McKay September 04, 2013 at 06:00 PM
Ben, about watching in parking lots, or surrounding bars, that is already going on all the time. Drive through downtown Cotati some wkend night and you will see cops in the downtown parking lot or parked on the street. I can't speak for Santa Rosa. I don't go to downtown Santa Rosa very often.
Jack Shmollie September 28, 2013 at 03:26 PM
Lets just cut the crap .Put a sensor in the cars that detect alcohol , speeding and illegal following distance , with an obvious indicator light on the rear of the car .BIG BROTHER at his best .SIEG HIEL ! GASTAPO TACTICS RULE !


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