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Novato DUI Checkpoint Nets 1

11 vehicles towed for misdemeanors

There was one arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol out of 1,336 vehicles checked Friday evening when the Novato Police Department conducted a sobriety checkpoint at the intersection of West Campus Drive and San Marin Drive on the city's north side.

The sole DUI arrest occurred at 7:36 p.m., according to statistics released by Sgt. Oliver Collins. Officers cited 11 drivers for other moving violations. The first citation was issued at 5:50 p.m. and the last one at 9:58 p.m. 

Eleven vehicles were towed away due to misdemeanor violations. Those are typically suspended California driver’s licenses or in the case of at least one driver, not even having a valid license at all, Collins said. He added that individual caught Friday had not had a valid driver’s license since 2009. 

There was no enforcement of insurance or registration during the checkpoint unless it was a lesser-included charge along with a driver’s license violation. 

Normally, towed vehicles can be returned to the owner the next day so long as a licensed driver is picking it up and proof of registration and insurance can be provided. There is a $130 police release fee as well as a towing and overnight storage fee to the garage of $65. The longer a car owner leaves it stored, the more it costs to retrieve it.

Driving on a suspended license in California can be expensive and “time” consuming. A first-time conviction carries a minimum fine of $300 and a maximum fine of $1,000.  There can be penalty assessments and/or imprisonment for five days to six months. A second offense within five years will get you a minimum penalty of $500 and a maximum fine of $2000.  Jail time can be for 10 days up to one year.

Edwin Drake May 11, 2011 at 05:03 AM
How many other crimes were reported during that time period? Were any of the police on overtime? With a "success" rate of less than 1/10 of 1 percent maybe the time, and money, could have been better spent elsewhere? I'm just asking and would like to know.
Hattie May 11, 2011 at 06:41 AM
The checkpoint will be funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr May 11, 2011 at 01:51 PM
Now THAT is great work. We need more checkpoints, not just for holidays. License, registration AND insurance checks take cars away from criminals. Without transportation, criminlas cannot ply their trade. Do you want a family story about how you suffered when you were hit by an uninsured DUI?
BRIAN O'CONNOR May 11, 2011 at 02:27 PM
A " success" rate of less than one percent and you call that "Great" ?? No matter who paid for it the taxpayer , (that"s us) is footing the bill and this seems like a real loser to me.
Susan Clark May 11, 2011 at 02:56 PM
Getting one drunk Driver off the road is a win win for everyone. It's certainly worth my tax dollars! Thank you Novato Police Department!
reynold martinez May 11, 2011 at 03:27 PM
Of course one has to supports getting drunk drivers off the road but this was a model of inefficiency. There were at least ten people Manning the checkpoint on San Marin Drive at 7:00 pm. Dozens of cars were making u-turns just to avoid the traffic jam (and perhaps to avoid the checkpoint but how do you single them out in that situation) It seems like a checkpoint set up starting around the time people leave the bar would be much more effective.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr May 11, 2011 at 06:11 PM
Getting the one drunk driver off the road who would otherwise have injured or killed your family or mine IS worth the investment in police hours and equiment. The point which you miss is that the checkpoint also got eleven drivers off the road who had been adjudicated by a court of law that they had already abused their privilege to drive a motor vehicle is just as important as getting a drunk driver off the road. I reiterated, GREAT! If pursuing a vehicle avoiding a check poiont is not a Vehicle Code violation, it should be. And I know that some police agencies have a cruiser available to chaser evaders.
Dave May 11, 2011 at 07:21 PM
Seems like a waste of time and money. I would think a single squad car out on patrol would do better than one DUI per Friday night.
Lou Judson May 11, 2011 at 07:55 PM
I remember well in the 60s and 70s when inspection checkpoints were routine and frequent and randomly located in Marin - they would check all your lights, your license, and safety items - even checking headlight adjustment sometimes. They got a lot of DUIs in the process, and there were a lot fewer dead taillights. I guess there are just too many other priorities and too little funding these days. I say good work, too. L
Tom Walsh May 11, 2011 at 10:14 PM
Edwin, FYI - you can see on the log summary under "Wedding Bliss Short-lived" that Novato PD also handled a burglary and psychiatric case during that period. They handled at least an additional 14 calls by my count between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. These either were not significant enough to report or I didn't have enough info on the calls at the time to include them in the log summary. The calls varied from party complaints, to vehicle accidents, sex crime reports business alarms, and domestic disturbances. Hope this helps. Tom
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr May 11, 2011 at 11:30 PM
TOM! Welcome to the Tell-It-Like-It-Is-Club. Thanks.
BRIAN O'CONNOR May 11, 2011 at 11:52 PM
When I was taught criminal law the police needed probable cause to stop a vehicle. That is something they could state in court which gave them the legal right to detain the driver and check them out. Where is the probable cause in a vehicle checkpoint? When did we relinquish that right?
Dave May 12, 2011 at 12:22 AM
You are correct. It's called the 4th amendment. Designed to keep the government from over reaching.
Edwin Drake May 12, 2011 at 04:38 AM
There is ALWAYS a sign, somewhere before the Check Point, telling you that a Check Point one is ahead. Plus, the sign must be placed so that a driver can turn away from the Check Point without any penalty. It's how they fulfill the constitutional requirement, by warning and giving you an out. I went by the San Marin stop, and if you looked carefully you could have driven around the backside of Firemans' Fund and come out past the police.
Edwin Drake May 12, 2011 at 04:39 AM
There is ALWAYS a sign, somewhere before the Check Point, telling you that a Check Point is ahead. Plus, the sign must be placed so that a driver can turn away from the Check Point without any penalty. It's how they fulfill the constitutional requirement, by warning and giving you an out. I went by the San Marin stop, and if you looked carefully you could have driven around the backside of Firemans' Fund and come out past the police.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr May 12, 2011 at 04:46 AM
Not quite. Driving in California is a privilege, not a right. The California Supreme Court has already heard a case on checkpoints and determined that they are legal and constitutional. You need probable cause for a DUI stop, but not for a checkpoint stop. Search Google Scholar or Findlaw.com for the case. This is NOT legal advice.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr May 12, 2011 at 04:48 AM
Dave, if you object to government over reaching, what are you doing about the Novato City Council which has refuse to place a citizen Legal Employment and Contracting certified initiative on the ballot. Your MF city council has taken citizen voting away from you. Did you know that?
Edwin Drake May 12, 2011 at 06:46 AM
from: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/ca-dui-checkpoints--snatching-victory-from-the-jaws-of-defeat (regarding checkpoints in California) Requirement: Drivers Must Have an Opportunity to Leave if They Do Not Wish to Stop. This may come as a complete surprise to you, but you actually have the right NOT to participate in a sobriety checkpoint. In fact, you may not be stopped and detained merely because you attempted to avoid the checkpoint. This is why it is also required that law enforcement post signs warning you that a checkpoint lies ahead. However, if you commit a vehicle code violation or display obvious signs of intoxication, there is adequate probable cause to pull you over. In other words, avoid the checkpoint if you can do it without commiting a V.C. violation.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr May 12, 2011 at 05:39 PM
Ingersoll v Palmer, 43 Cal.3d 1321 (1987), sobriety checkpoints are legal. They are administrative searches rather than criminal seraches, although they may lead to criminal arrests. Yes, you can choose to avoid a checkpoint. However, if you make an illegal or unsafe "U" turn to do so, that is likely probable cause. Stops are for public safety. Average stop 28 seconds for wave throughs, 6.13 minutes for field sobriety tests. All in all, you should remember 4 things, if you choose to drive after consuming intoxicants, 1-read the newspaper notices for dates and locations, 2-drive with your fingers crossed, 3-have a good DUI attorney on speed dial, 4-keep $20,000 in your checking account. This is NOT legal advice.
Craig Belfor May 13, 2011 at 05:27 PM
Wanna balance the budget, make the highways safer and more courteous, get rid of uninsured drivers, and stop road rage? 1) Add a fuel tax that pays for liability coverage only. The more you drive, the more you pay, as your liability exposure goes up. People will go for better fuel cars, drive less, and take public transit more, all in order to save money. 2) Have lots more unmarked police and highway patrol cars. People will act nice if they don't know who's out there. Jack up the fines enough to get out the word on road rage drivers with the huge unsafe lane change fines of up to $500. Make the local highway patrol self funded until people get the point and stop unsafe driving. The local police department can do this too. People only care about money. Hit them where it hurts. Impound more cars, arrest more people, and fund the programs with fines.
Susan Clark May 13, 2011 at 08:35 PM
From what I understand there were quite a few arrests for driving without a license which is against the law. Yeah for DUI check points and Thank You Novato Police.
Guy Perkins July 25, 2011 at 05:06 AM
Craig, are you under the impression that if you cut funding to the CHP they will only stop violators? That's a lot of money they need. It's easier to make up violations than to find a new job.
Spyder-Sam Ryder July 25, 2011 at 05:24 AM
Spend an hour watching a DUI checkpoint. Invite some friends to get educated with you. Take photos&notes. Listen. You'll hear the police asking for information that they dont need to know, that citizens have a right not to answer, like "Where are you going?" How many citizens watched the "never talk to the police" video on youtube, and know they don't have to answer these questions? You'll watch as many as 80% of the officers just standing around gabbing with each other. Sometimes the police departments combine their forces to make sure that even more idle officers are standing around. You'll see a whole bunch of tow truck drivers sitting near by waiting for business. You'll hear a police officer yell to them "We're trying to find you some business." You'll be hassled by the police that your presence is alarming them, even though you are only observing and listening to how they treat the citizens that they are needlessly stopping. If you're carrying a purse or backpack, they will pretend you are a threat to them. They may threaten to take your camera. There must be escape route, but they use tricks tricks so by the time you realize it's not road construction, its too late to use the escape route. Sometimes a cruiser will pull over those who use the escape route. Multiply the wasted effort just once for each of the 5000+ counties in this country, and realize why government is so far in debt. Just a little of the education I received...
Spyder-Sam Ryder July 25, 2011 at 05:38 AM
I support your crusade to get the city to check immigration status of people who get paid by our tax dollars. I didn't quite understand your remark about vehicle code violation. Are you saying the cops should be guilty of vehicle code violation for pursuing vehicles that avoid a check point? Or are you saying the drive of the vehicle should be guilty for wanting to avoid needless questioning by the police? If the second case, shame on you. As an attorney you of all people should know better than to try and criminalize people who prefer to go their way without needless interaction with the police. Go back to law school and watch the professor who put the "Never talk to the police" video on youtube. Your cheering the police to overspend resources with very limited return is encouraging waste that we can not afford. Do you ever visit a restaurant that serves alcohol? How about a cruiser to stop you and check you whenever you leave such a restaurant, whether or not you ever drink?
Dexter Kaziff July 26, 2011 at 04:31 AM
Spyder...spoken like a true jail house lawyer or wannabe anarchist who spends his days living off of mommy and daddy and his nights fighting the evil capitalist pigs and the man. Stop it.

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