Jul 28, 2014

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.

DUI Checkpoint Planned for Canal Neighborhood DUI Checkpoint Planned for Canal Neighborhood

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. 

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