We were driving home Saturday night about 10:30 and, as we were exiting the freeway, we encountered a lot of stopped cars on a major city street running through my neighborhood. Bright lights, lots of police cars, and ten minutes later, we find out that the Irvine police were running a sobriety checkpoint.
I recall getting stopped in only one of these in the past, and that was after leaving a firm holiday party. This happened in a neighborhood where plenty of ritzy parties were going on and the police could reasonably expect a lot of drinking and driving. I was carpooling with a coworker and, luckily, we were waived right through the stopped cars.
But the one on Saturday night seemed strange and was definitely time-consuming. I appreciate the reasons for a checkpoint, of course, but it didn’t appear to me that there was a logical explanation to have one on a random Saturday night. By definition, sobriety checkpoints are police stops or checkpoints, where officers are set up on a roadway to randomly stop vehicles to check for impaired drivers. These are usually set up during times when impaired driving is known to happen, such as holiday weekends.
The checkpoint will be clearly marked and vehicles will be selected for further screening on a pre-set basis to ensure objectivity. Motorists will be greeted and given information about impaired driving. Trained officers will direct suspected impaired drivers to a secondary area for further evaluation. Most motorists will experience little or no delay. This checkpoint is being carried out with the use of grant funding awarded by the California Office of Traffic Safety.
High-visibility enforcement can reduce drunken driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research has shown. [The Irvine Police Department] publicizes these highly visible sobriety checkpoints to deter impaired drivers, encourage the use of sober designated drivers, and bring increased awareness to the consequences of impaired driving.
As we slowly crawled forward through the dozens of cars, we could see police officers and patrol cars along the street. What surprised me was the number of youth officers (cadets) and lights lining the street. There were possibly twenty or thirty cadets, most of them sitting alongside the road watching as the “real” officers checked a driver’s license or waved the cars through. Those youngsters got to stay up late on a Saturday night!
Which leads me to my question of the day. Do you drive with your purse on the front seat next to you? Or do you put it in the back seat? If I hadn’t had Leslie in the car, who could (not so easily) reach behind my seat and grab my purse so I could offer my driver’s license upon request, how would I have complied? Stop my car at the police officer’s feet, get out and open the back door to retrieve my wallet? If I had been alone, my purse would be in the front seat and I could easily reach my wallet.
Have you encountered this problem before? If you’re stopped by the police (for a minor traffic infraction, of course!), could you easily reach for your purse? Or did you have to explain to the cop that you had to grab your purse from the back?