LAPD, Highway Patrol to hold sobriety check

The Los Angeles Police Department and California Highway Patrol will join the USC Department of Public Safety in conducting a sobriety check Saturday night in hopes of catching people who are driving under the influence near campus.

The sobriety and license checkpoint will take place between Jefferson Boulevard and 33rd Street along Figueroa Street between 6 p.m. and 1 a.m.

Each department, including DPS, will contribute some officers to assist in the checkpoint.

According to LAPD officials, 10 officers on motorcycles, two collision investigation officers and one traffic collision sergeant will assist from LAPD’s South Traffic Division. Additionally, 10 officers and one sergeant from the California Highway Patrol Special Operations Unit will be at the checkpoint.

Not all cars will be checked; instead, officers will choose cars at random or will pick those who show signs of driving under the influence. Those drivers who are picked will be subject to a sobriety test and a license check.

DPS Assistant Chief John Thomas said that a checkpoint near campus is important for students’ safety. He cited the death of Adrianna Bachan, a USC freshman who was struck by a hit-and-run driver last March on Jefferson Boulevard. There has been speculation that the driver might have been drunk at the time.

“We went to [the California Highway Patrol] because we’re concerned with what happened to Adrianna Bachan, and we want to make sure people driving under the influence get caught,” Thomas said.

Though the checkpoint will happen near campus, it was up to the Highway Patrol to decide where the checkpoint would take place. Thomas said the Highway Patrol chose a location where they thought they could have the greatest impact.

According to LAPD, 121 drunk driving-related deaths occurred in the Southwest Los Angeles area in 2009, as well as 1,105 hit-and-run traffic collisions.

Some students, such as Paul Hill, a graduate student studying strategic public relations, said this checkpoint shows the school cares about students even when they are off campus.

“It’s good to keep people on their toes and for it to be so close to campus,” Hill said. “It will only be a problem if people are not aware and don’t act accordingly, but it’s good for the community and shows the school cares.”

Ewa Tymoszewska, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering, said this checkpoint is necessary even if it will pose an inconvenience.

“You shouldn’t be drinking and driving,” she said. “It will definitely be annoying, but, if that’s the only way they will stop drinking and driving, why not?”

DPS hopes the checkpoint will help get drunk drivers off the road.

“If you are driving under the influence in this area, you are going to be stopped and arrested,” Thomas said.

Students like Shilpa Rajgopal, a sophomore majoring in civil engineering, said the mere presence of the checkpoint will dissuade intoxicated people from driving, even if it only covers a limited area.

“Driving under the influence is bad, so I don’t have a problem with the checkpoint,” Rajgopal said. “It will discourage people from driving under the influence.”

Thomas hopes students will not see this checkpoint as a hassle but will consider how it will help keep the area safe and take those who should not be driving off the road.

“It’s not meant to target students at all, but, if they are intoxicated, they will be held under the same jurisdiction,” Thomas said.

4 replies
  1. Frustrated Driver
    Frustrated Driver says:

    I sometimes wonder just how effective these points are. Quoting an article from the LAist,

    “On average, 35 officers work the checkpoints. “At least a dozen officers spent hours sitting and chatting at an operation in early January in downtown Los Angeles,” the report stated. “A couple of officers smoked cigars as they watched cars go through the screening. Officers seized 22 cars that evening and made one DUI arrest. The state data shows that last fiscal year LAPD spent $16,200 per checkpoint, all of it on officer overtime,” which is funded by state grants.”

    Gee $16.2k *per checkpoint* How is operating constantly in the red working for you, brokey LA? Granted that it is a revenue generator for the city, 35 officers is just an exaggeration. Lastly, I agree with CR, there should be a neutral formula with the exception of drivers being blatantly intoxicated, that would eliminate bias.

    Oh yeah, and take your checkpoint elsewhere. Slapping one up on Figueroa north of Jefferson on an evening when traffic is particularly heavy has fail written all over it.

  2. Mr. DB
    Mr. DB says:

    i think this is a waste of effort.
    I believe the mere presence of safety officers around campus and on the road should deter drunk drivers.
    You do not have to go to the extreme of having to check the cars.
    besides, majority of USC students that party around campus are walking not driving.
    Parking is a b***h!

  3. Checkpoint response
    Checkpoint response says:

    “Not all cars will be checked; instead, officers will choose cars at random or will pick those who show signs of driving under the influence.”

    This is a flagrant violation of the law concerning checkpoints. To quote from Ingersoll v. Palmer, “A related concern is that motorists should not be subject to the unbridled discretion of the officer in the field as to who is to be stopped. Instead, a neutral formula such as every driver or every third, fifth or tenth driver should be employed.”

    What these officers are doing is in blatant violation of the court’s guidelines. They should change their policies or be taken to court.

Comments are closed.