Photos by Melitza Beltran.
Authorities are planning a DUI checkpoint in an unspecified area of North Long Beach over the weekend, according to a release from the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD). The news comes as the department announced its kickoff of new methods in its campaign to deter drunk drivers, using what they call a "mobile billboard"—a painted cop car—that demonstrates the cost difference of a first-time DUI offense versus obtaining a taxi ride.
The DUI/Driver’s License checkpoint is scheduled to take place on Saturday, April 23 from 7:00PM to 3:00AM in the LBPD’s North Division, according to a release from the LBPD.
The location of the checkpoint is based on collision statistics and the frequency of DUI arrests, officials stated.
Sgt. Shaleana Benson of the LBPD said the need for awareness regarding drunk driving and its repercussions spurred her idea for the department's educational campaign last year, titled "Know Your Limit."
"Unlike a DUI checkpoint, we are connecting with people," said Benson, pointing to the campaign's "mobile billboard." "DUI checkpoints only check every fifth vehicle. People view it more as an inconvenience. This is an educational tool."
The car used for the campaign appears as half a taxi car, half a police vehicle (it is in fact a retired cop car).
The vehicle is emblazoned with the words "This ride is $20," on the taxi side, juxtaposed with "This ride is $10,000," on the cop side. In the middle of the car, the car reads "Choose Your Ride."
Benson was quick to point out that the $10,000 in fees is the estimated amount, at minimum, for a first-time DUI, obtaining a public defender's fee.
The "Know Your Limit" campaign consists of walking up to people in bars who are drinking, and educating them on Blood Alcohol Content levels, as well as discussing their plans to ride home. Benson said someone could be arrested with a BAC of as little as .04, contrary to the widely assumed .08.
The car, which was parked at the Grand Prix last weekend, is meant to serve as an "aha" moment, Benson said, and encourage the use of mobile applications and services to provide a safe means of traveling after drinking.
In the past three years, officers with the LBPD have investigated 1,032 DUI collisions, which have resulted in seven deaths and 370 injuries, according to LBPD officials.
In the state, impaired driving has led to 867 deaths and more than 23,000 serious injuries in 2013. Nationally, the most recent data shows over 10,000 people were killed by an impaired driver.
The LBPD encouraged the use the California Office of Traffic Safety Designated Driver VIP (DDVIP) mobile app, which is now available for mobile download. Through the app, which launched last year, users will be able to locate establishments that offer incentives for participating in the app, which helps users order a sober ride from Uber, Lyft or Curb, all on one screen.