Thursday, August 27, 2009

DUI Checkpoint - August 22, 2009

First, as promised: Drue Allen's winner from the people leaving comments on Tuesday's post is …. Elizabeth Spann Craig. Congratulations, Elizabeth. Please drop Drue an email at drueallen (at) gmail (dot) com with your address so she can mail your goodies.

Now – on to a recap of last Saturday night's DUI Checkpoint, as promised.

Officers from a multitude of agencies, as well as the DOT and MADD assembled for a briefing prior to the start of the checkpoint. For this event, traffic was stopped in both directions in what might be considered a 'rough' part of town.

As usual, part of the 'dues' we volunteers with the Civilian Police Academy paid was bringing desserts to help keep up the energy levels for these law enforcement officers who were working from 8 PM to 4 AM in the hot Florida night. A local restaurant donated some bbq.

Not only was the outside temperature high, but the portable lights and car engines added to the heat. We helped out by carrying water to the men and women working the line. This time, however, because of the location, in addition to the expected safety lecture (wear an orange vest, keep eyes and ears open, and if you hear anything—louder than usual car engines, shouting, gunfire, etc., look to see where it's coming from and then go The Other Way), we were also told we could not cross the street to the median without a uniformed escort. Felt kind of like being four years old and having to have a grownup help you across the street.

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Once the line opened, the officers stopped every car and asked to see license and registration. At this point, they could check for safety issues, and should anything seem out of sorts, they could search the car. And since the checkpoint was announced in huge brightly lit road signs, one wonders why so many people were caught driving without licenses, on suspended licenses, without seatbelts, or any other "duh" offenses. But, as the Captain pointed out in the briefing, they catch the stupid ones on checkpoints like this.

And there were plenty of them. We watched them administer field sobriety tests (and the mobile testing van was also on site). People were driving around with babies in arms instead of in car seats. The Highway Patrol was checking car seats, making sure they were installed properly (far too many aren't—80% nationwide is the statistic I found) and they even had some they gave to drivers with unprotected children.

One woman who didn't have a valid license expected the officers to let her drive away after giving her a ticket. Thank goodness for cell phones; there were a number of people who had to call someone to come get them. I'm sure there were a lot of kids who were going to be grounded.

One arrest was of a woman who "didn't know" her license had been suspended. It was only her ninth stop in two years. Hmmm. She went to jail.

Hubby and I didn't stick together, so I'm going to let him give you his impressions of the evening:

What are people doing out on the road with babies at midnight?

Amazing how many of these folks don't have, don't use, don't know how to use kiddie car seats. Have these folks no concern for the welfare of their children?

Guy pulled over for some reason - perhaps a visible handgun on the car seat. His concealed weapon permit was valid but his drivers license wasn't! And no obvious drugs in the vehicle as one might expect when the driver is visibly armed.

And then there are the drivers and passengers apparently unaware of the seatbelt law. Citations all around!

Then there are folks who have mounds of papers in their vehicles and can't find their insurance cards and vehicle registration document.

The dogs had a great time.

Of course there are those folks with no driver's license at all and no one else in the vehicle with a license. Call for a pickup. Tow truck, please.

A few DUIs; folks taken away in handcuffs and they didn't look very happy.

A boy blew over the limit. Apparently of drinking age but had to call his parents to come and get him and the car. Don't know if he was given a citation but later on, back at home .............ouch!

Folks driving through the check line yacking on cell phones - can't wait until that cell phone behavior becomes illegal along with texting while driving. Just how important are these phone calls?

Overall the LEOs seemed to be quite nice to a lot of people who could have received citations.

I'll echo hubby's comment -- the politeness level of the cop side was impressive.

In addition to watching the line, I spent some time chatting with one of the Narcotics deputies who was working with his drug dog. According to department policy, they can't bring the dog over to check a car without cause. But once an officer stops the car and has a reason to suspect drugs, they would call for the dog.

His dog was a black lab, relatively new to the force. The officer explained it was good practice for him to work in these circumstances, but he sometimes gave false positive alerts because he was new, and the reward for an alert was playtime.

Another thing I learned was that much of what the narcotics division does is check packages coming in through FedEx and UPS (they can only check the USPS mail if invited). There are a LOT of drugs coming into Orlando, although the officer told me of a recent serendipitous case. They'd checked packages, and the dog alerted to several. Upon opening them, they found very fancy, very heavy, very suspicious looking stuffed animals. Further investigation found not drugs, but jewelry, inside the animals. This led to a breakthrough in a robbery ring out of Houston. The kicker: there were no drugs, but whoever had taped the packages had been handling marijuana, and traces were stuck on the tape.

Since we had a lot to do over the next few days, we left at about midnight. If I can get the statistics from the Sheriff's Office, I'll post them.

Meanwhile, tomorrow is Part 2 of The Littlest Cop, Detective Hussey's latest chapter. Please come back.


Elena said...

I'm with both of you - why people who are breaking the law insist on going through an obvious check point has always puzzled me.

Being a total dog lover I was delighted by the drug dog's ability to sniff out such a tiny amount of marijuana successfully. What a wonderful outcome!

Karla Brandenburg said...

They do this sort of thing where I live, too. Usually at the bridge over the river. There are only a couple of bridges to cross the river, so this is an imposition, albeit a worthwhile one. I'd say it's always worth the effort.

Jennifer Ross said...

Great post to see how it is on the other side of the line. I've been through a few of these but never had any problems, so it was interesting to see the variety of stupid people!

Terry Odell said...

This is the third time we've volunteered at a DUI event. Seems that the people on the other side of the line don't get any smarter. If their stupidty wasn't putting MY life at risk, I probably wouldn't care.

Sheila Deeth said...

Oh, that last one was amazing. Guess smugglers should wash their hands more often.

Debra St. John said...

Wow! People really can be stupid, can't they? Yikes. But, it sounds like it was a fun experience on the "right side of the law".

Terry Odell said...

I think my favorite DUI stupidity story is when the cops pulled a guy over and explained what they were doing and asked for his driver's license and registration, he said, "Sure, no problem. Mind holding my beer?" and then handed them his open beer container.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Wow. I'm amazed at the irresponsible parents out there. Remember that old commercial in the 70s? "It's you know where your children are?"

And I'm so excited to be a winner! I'll shoot Drue an email. Thanks!

Mystery Writing is Murder

Terry Odell said...

Elizabeth, congrats on winning Drue's drawing.

And no wonder I was never at ease when my kids were out late, even when I did know where they were, and that they had a good reason to be there.

(That never really goes away -- our son was home for his 20th high school reunion, and I still had some of those feelings while he was out and about with his friends)

Ray said...

This blog is a keeper.
We have DUI checks from time to time. Another place people get caught all the time is at posted radar stops. The police advertise where they are going to stop speeders on all the local radio stations that give traffic reports. Even so there are always those who get caught.

I am interested in the statistics when you post them.


Terry Odell said...

Ray, thanks so much. If I can get those stats, I'll be sure to post them.

Carol Kilgore said...

Nice to see how this works. I'm always amazed by people.

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