DUI Checkpoint Planned for Canal Neighborhood

Amid recent criticism of the proximity of checkpoints to the Canal neighborhood, San Rafael Police scheduled a checkpoint on Grand Avenue and East Francisco Boulevard this Friday.

A DUI and driver’s license checkpoint is planned for Aug. 12 on southbound Grand Avenue and East Francisco Boulevard, according to the

Locations of checkpoints for their proximity to the Canal neighborhood, a densely populated 2.5-square-mile stretch north of Highway 580, where many residents are unauthorized workers and are stopped for not having a driver’s license.

“The checkpoint location was chosen after an analysis of traffic collision data that indicates a high percentage of DUI-involved collisions in the area,” police spokeswoman Margo Rohrbacher said.

Between January and August of 2011, San Rafael police investigated a total of 29 traffic collisions involving a DUI driver, according to Rohrbacher.

Of those 29 collisions, 16 of them, or 55 percent, occurred in the Canal neighborhood. Of those accidents, 18 resulted in injuries, with eight of those (45 percent) resulting from Canal collisions, she said.

“Eleven of the 16 drunken drivers were also unlicensed or driving on a suspended license,” she said.

From April to July, around 39 vehicles were towed at DUI checkpoints around San Rafael, according to the police. Many of the vehicles towed at the checkpoints are often impounded, according to Rohrbacher.

The most recent when an unlicensed driver struck another car after performing a U-turn in traffic.  The driver fled, but was arrested a short time later for felony hit and run, felony DUI, and driving while unlicensed and uninsured.  Two people were injured in the other car, including a five-year-old child, Rohrbacher said.

Since the San Rafael City Council last week, the price of recovering your car from being impounded can add up to several thousands of dollars.

“My concern is that whenever there’s a checkpoint near the Canal, there are far more cars towed than drivers arrested for DUIs,” Vice Mayor Greg Brockbank said in a neighborhood meeting with Canal residents.

The San Rafael Police Department is working on a new policy regarding towing cars. No new policies are in place, according to Rohrbacher.

The DUI checkpoints are funded by a series of state grants. Applications for the grants are approved by the City Council.

Friday's checkpoint will start at 6 p.m. and may relocate later in the evening to eastbound Bellam Boulevard at Castro Street, Rohrbacher said. The last time a checkpoint was at the Grand and Francisco spot was in September 2010. 

Michael August 11, 2011 at 01:27 AM
It is interesting to see people previously commmenting against a police activity that is focused on making our crowded roads safer? While people may not be driving under the influence, driving without a valid license & insurance might be more destructive to all of us. What are the motives of those challenging an activity that makes our roads safer? We must have some rules and regulations for those of us priviledged to drive vehicles on our roads. I've read about the hardships people claim when their car is impounded when caught without a license.Should we just let them go on their merry way? Losing your car seems appropriate as you should never have been using the roads in the first place. What happens then if/when unlicensed drivers have a collision with another vehicle? We all pay the price via higher insurance and more accidents. This is not an ethnic issue in my view but one of safety no matter how those without valid licenses want to try and spin it. Law abiding citizens need to stand up and be heard. Why is Greg Brockbank concerned about the cars that are towed from those caught driving illegally? Does he actually want unlicensed drivers and their cars on our roads OR is this a politician playing for votes (he's running for mayor). You decide. The police and the media publicize the time and place of these checkpoints ahead of time. How hard would it be to plot your trip around them if you were someone driving without a license? Seems absurd to me.
David Raines August 11, 2011 at 04:43 PM
Although accounting for less than 10 percent of drivers, they are involved in 20 percent of all fatal crashes, killing over 7,000 people a year nationwide. Compared with licensed drivers, unlicensed drivers are 4.9 times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes; 3.7 times more likely to drive while impaired; and 4.4 times more likely to be in hit-and-run crashes. Any questions?
Tom Wilson August 11, 2011 at 05:31 PM
Mr. Murray makes a good point that we need to focus on making our roads safer and also assure that drivers are licensed for the greater public good. In fact, getting drivers licenses for all would be the best solution, and in addition, given that there are approximately 2.6 million unauthorized residents in CA, if even only a third of them got licenses, it would put $25million into the state coffers, and wouldn't that be great! Let's all write our legislators and let them know that for reasons of public safety and to increase state revenue without raising taxes, let's make drivers licenses available to all California residents!
alison healy August 14, 2011 at 03:22 AM
Absolutely! Not only would this encourage more responsible driving, it would insure that more drivers would be insured which would add more $$ to the economy. Let's work together to make licenses available to all California residents; it's the responsible thing to do!
Julie Beach August 14, 2011 at 09:20 PM
My fellow liberal-ites need to get control of themselves. SRPD is in the business of fighiting crime so they go where the crime is. DUI check points around the Canal area target drunk driving, driving withou a license, driving without insurance because SRPD knows that areas near the Canal and around SR High School are where they will catch alot of law breakers and get them off the road. This has nothing about race or immigration . If these types of crimes were happened where I live in Peacock Gap, then SRPD would be doing checkpoints out here.


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