Checkpoints – Check ‘Em Off the Checklist
To the San Luis Obispo Police Department:
The Pack family was one that was very well regarded throughout the Danville community. Parents Bob and Carmen had two little children, ten year old Troy and his seven year old sister Alana, both of which attended Sycamore Valley Elementary School with my brother and me. Troy was a pretty big kid, and even though he was a grade below us, I remember my friends and I would always try to pick him on our football team. My mom knew Carmen very well from PTA, and we had even been over to their family’s for dinner once before. But on the fateful night of October 26th, 2003, the lives of the members of the Pack family, as well as many other people in their community would change forever. The Pack family had just finished eating dinner on what seemed to be just another ordinary Sunday night. Troy and Alana had a big day at school the next day, and they were anxiously awaiting their father’s return home from work. Their mom decided she was going to treat her kids to some dessert before bed. The family decided to take a walk down the street to the local Arco station to get some slurpees. In the middle of their walk back home - the unexpected happened. A gold Mercedes, being driven by a woman who was later discovered to be Jimena Baretto, veered across two lanes of traffic and off the road. The car then drove 80 feet down the sidewalk before striking the family from behind. Baretto fled the scene on foot, and wasn’t captured by police until three days later - but the damage had been done. Alana was killed instantly upon impact, and although Troy was rushed to a local hospital, he died there later that night. In merely a few hours, loving parents Bob and Carmen had the two most important things in their lives taken away from them. It was later discovered that Baretto had been driving with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) well above the legal limit. She had had four Driving Under the Influences (DUIs) on her record already, and she had been driving without a license, which had previously been suspended for the 9th time.
Unfortunately stories like this are not uncommon in California. Drunk driving has been a problem throughout the entire nation for decades now, and as cars are only becoming bigger and faster, these incidences are getting more and more dangerous. In 2007 alone, 3,967 people in California were killed in traffic accidents. 1,489 of these fatalities (38 percent) were a result of alcohol. An additional 30,783 people were injured from alcohol-involved crashes in California that same year (Driving Under). In 2005, 19 people were killed due to alcohol related traffic accidents in San Luis Obispo County alone (City-Data). It is clear that the lone use of a simple law prohibiting driving under the influence has not been effective enough in preventing our citizens from doing so. Something more needs to be done, or these casualty numbers will continue to increase as they have been over the past decade. I propose that the San Luis Obispo Police Department set up a series of DUI checkpoints throughout the city, in order to minimize the frequency of these tragic instances, and establish safer roadways for the people of San Luis Obispo to use.
A DUI checkpoint entails police officers stopping every vehicle that passes through a predetermined intersection to examine drivers for signs of impairment. The intersection is chosen well beforehand, and is usually one that is particularly busy, or has a history of frequent traffic accidents. These checkpoints help raise public awareness about the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as well as issue DUI arrests or other citations when applicable. They are typically scheduled for a time when people are more likely to drink and drive, such as weekends or holidays. Although the number of DUIs given in relation to the number of vehicles that pass through these...
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