Controversial DUI Enforcement


A news article in USA Today features Fresno Police Department's aggressive efforts to curb repeat DUI offenders. I think they are on to something despite its controversial methods.

Repeat DUI offenders are typically alcohol dependent and require herculean effort to stay sober. Breaking this addictive cycle of drinking and driving, states have responded with lower legal limits, tougher penalties, and even yellow license plates here in Ohio. However, as a practitioner on the front lines of this battle, alcoholics think more about their next drink than worrying about driving without a license.

So, Fresno P.D. is helping these folks in their efforts not to drink. Fresno P.D. may be the toughest city in the United States in DUI enforcement. This city of 460,000 has more sobriety checkpoints per capita than any other city. There were 96 just last year! Columbus, Ohio DUI enforcement might allow for 10 checkpoints in any given year.

Unlike any other city in the United States, Fresno police officers sit in bar parking lots in unmarked cars watching people stumble out of local watering holes. Marked units are then called in to sweep up the DUI motorist before he can get to the intersection. Why wait for an accident. Most DUI lawyers nitpick traffic stops for being unrelated to impairment anyway. Here is enforcement of impaired people as they enter a vehicle. Let the DUI lawyers nitpick whether or not the person was impaired as they walked out of a bar. Plus, the deterrent effect is huge!

However, the most aggressive action may be the use of GPS. Fresno police officers will sneek into the driveways of convicted DUI offenders who are on probation and place a stealth GPS device on the DUI offender's vehicle. The GPS alerts police or a probation officer when the DUI probationer goes into a bar or tavern.

Professionally, I have no problems with this in light of the fact GPS is reserved for repeat DUI offenders who have already acknowledged, in court, their alcoholism and desire to get sober. If this technology is a deterrent and/or allows for immediate intervention that the offender already desires, then why not. I am sure other civil libertarians will find my opinion out of step with their philosophy,. When it comes to protecting us from each other, that is where most libertarians and Ayn Rand followers would concede governmental intervention is naturally justified.