Wed. Jun 19th, 2024

Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez says that “the City Council has no authority to tell the Police Department what the policy should be,” according to the O.C. Register.  That simply is not true.

Oakland is now abstaining from impounding unlicensed drivers’ cars – and from the hundreds of thousands of dollars the controversial seizures generate a year, according to California Watch.  We wrote about that previously, at this link.

An investigation by California Watch and the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism last year found that sobriety checkpoints across the state were increasingly turning into profitable operations for local police and tow companies because of these vehicle impounds. In 2009, vehicle seizures generated an estimated $40 million in towing fees and police fines from checkpoint seizures.

So have the Santa Ana DUI checkpoints accomplished anything?

You can see the results of the 2009 SAPD DUI checkpoints in the graphic above. If I read it correctly, there have been 115 DUI arrests, out of over 17,000 vehicles that have passed through the checkpoints. Of those vehicles, 4,573 were actually screened, on a random basis. Only 125 field sobriety tests have been conducted.

In that same time period, 455 vehicles were impounded. Now you figure that a third of those were the DUI arrests, although in some cases the drivers were allowed to leave their cars at the checkpoint for their family to pick up.  But that still left about 300 folks without their cars.  They had to pay a lot of money to get their cars back!

Click here to read more about the SAPD DUI checkpoints, as we reported back in March of last year.

The reality is that Santa Ana could easily do what Oakland did – and Alvarez is just blowing smoke.  The real reason why the Santa Ana City Council won’t stop the SAPD DUI checkpoints, which as we illustrated above are utterly useless, is that the Santa Ana cops make a ton of money on overtime, when they are assigned to man the checkpoints.  The money for these checkpoints comes from state grants.  The Santa Ana City Council could stop the DUI checkpoints immediately by refusing to accept the state’s grant money.

Map of the SAPD Dui Checkpoints – note that they skip most of north and south Santa Ana

But if you think that anyone on the Santa Ana City Council will do anything that might piss off the SAPD, well guess again.  They won’t.  The police union has worked to get each of them either elected or reelected.

When I first investigated the SAPD DUI checkpoints my reward was an SAPD unit parked on my street for almost a week, at 5 pm, waiting for me to come home.  I am guessing that they were hoping I would do a “California stop.”  That didn’t happen so they finally gave up and left.

It is high time to stop the SAPD DUI checkpoints.  They do almost nothing to stop drunk drivers.  They are simply a ruse to separate otherwise law-abiding immigrants from their cars.  If Oakland’s City Council could figure this out, why can’t ours?

By Editor

The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

17 thoughts on “The Santa Ana City Council could stop the SAPD’s DUI checkpoints, but won’t”
  1. So critical and opinionated you are! you should just accept what your superiors tell you. terrorist.

    1. You missed the real irony – Alvarez and her family came here from Mexico. Now she needs to stop making excuses and help her fellow immigrants.

  2. If you look at the DUI MAP,for check points, were is 1st Street (LA PRIMERA/ LA CUATRO/LA BROADWAY/ LA MAIN….) what about Downtown Inc. promoting beer and wine garden on LA CUATRO? an NO CHECK POINTS IN THIS AREA.
    WHY THE OTHER END OF THE CITY…. if they going to have this program have to cover all the areas.
    Claudia Alvarez has done more that any other city council , facing all the problems in town and working with the people.
    Were are the others city council like Benavides or Bustamante?

  3. I have had my parked cars hit and destroyed by unlicensed / uninsured drivers. Where the drivers were born may or may not be contributing factor.

    I see on that list 455 future accidents prevented.

    If you want to help out immigrants with their problems in their paper work, pay their legal fees for them to get straight.

    The councilwoman you mentioned now represents the residents of Santa Ana and is an officer of the court too. Where do you get the idea that she owes criminal malcontents from foreign lands the time of day?

    (Also I don’t think the 30 day hold is legal, ACLU should sue on that issue)

  4. Arguments here have nothing to do with aiding “criminal malcontents fron foriegn lands”

    It is about appying the law correctly and fairly to all residents…… no never mind if they are “from foreign lands”.

    An investigation by the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley with California Watch has found:

    In response to the large number of unlicensed drivers on the road, the state of California implemented new laws in 1995 that gave law enforcement the right to seize a car on the spot. As expected, these laws have found some staunch advocates and some angry dissenters. Here are the particulars so you can generate your own opinion.

    Police Seizure

    According to the California Highway Patrol website, a law enforcement official can use Sections 14602.6 and 14607.6 of the California Vehicle Code to seize a car when a driver without a license, or with a revoked or suspended license, is caught driving.


    Read more: California Impound Law |

    The impound law granted police the authority to seize unlicensed drivers’ cars for 30 days. The California Attorney General’s Office said in a written statement that the state law is murky in terms of whether vehicles driven by unlicensed motorists can be taken at all.

    The seizures appear to defy a 2005 federal appellate court ruling that determined police cannot impound cars solely because the driver is unlicensed.

    In fact, police across the state have ratcheted up vehicle seizures. Last year, officers impounded more than 24,000 cars and trucks at checkpoints. That total is roughly seven times higher than the 3,200 drunken driving arrests at roadway operations. The percentage of vehicle seizures has increased 53 percent statewide compared to 2007.

    • Departments frequently overstaff checkpoints with officers, all earning overtime. The Moreno Valley Police Department in Riverside County averaged 38 officers at each operation last year, six times more than federal guidelines say is required. Nearly 50 other local police and sheriff’s departments averaged 20 or more officers per checkpoint – operations that averaged three DUI arrests a night.

    Additionally, the 2005 appellate court ruling includes exceptions, allowing police to seize a vehicle driven by an unlicensed motorist when abandoning it might put the public at risk. Examples include vehicles parked on a narrow shoulder or obstructing fire lanes.

    But reporters attending checkpoints in Sacramento, Hayward and Los Angeles observed officers impounding cars that appeared to pose no danger.

    Reporters also noted that many of the drivers who lost their cars at these checkpoints were illegal immigrants, based on interviews with the drivers and police. They rarely challenge vehicle seizures or have the cash to recover their cars, studies and interviews show.

    This wasn’t what lawmakers intended when they passed an impound law 15 years ago – the same law that the federal court has since questioned, said David Roberti, former president of the state Senate.

    Cities have their own money problems.

    Since 2007, the sales tax revenues of California municipalities have shrunk by $471 million, figures from the California State Board of Equalization show.

    Property values have withered, too, causing financial woes at every level of government.

    “If a city wants to try to raise revenue, in mostly all cases you have to go to the voters,” said Daniel Carrigg, legislative director for the League of California Cities. Local governments, instead, are adding to fees for services and fines for an assortment of violations.

    Local governments often charge unlicensed drivers a fine to get their vehicles released from impound – on average more than $150, finance records show. Cities, increasingly, also get a cut of the fees that tow operators charge vehicle owners, generating hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

    Some local governments ensure they get a larger share as their police departments seize more and more cars.

    In Los Angeles County, the city of Montebello requires its tow operator to increase its cut of impound revenue when the police department seizes a higher volume of cars.

    Tow company Helms and Hill Inc. pays Montebello $200 per tow when officers order more than 151 cars hauled away each month, the city’s finance records show.

    Montebello’s DUI checkpoints rank among California’s least effective at getting drunks off the road.

    Last year, officers there failed to conduct a single field sobriety test at three of the city’s five roadway operations, state records show.

    Montebello collected upward of $95,000 during the last fiscal year from checkpoints, including grant money for police overtime.

    The California Office of Traffic Safety, which is administered in part by officials at UC Berkeley, continues to fund Montebello’s operations, providing a fresh $37,000 grant for this year.

  5. My daughter’s best friend, from as early as 4th great, spent many nights in our house, virtually my daughter, was killed about 1 year ago age 21 by drunk driver in the intersection of Flower and Sunflower by Mexican about 22, rich kid, with problems, many DUIs.

    In contrast, I do not believe that it could have been prevented by what SAPD is doing nor what they did to Susie Young Kim.

    However, I know for fact that Mexicans are too stupid and do not know how to drink and drive.

    To much machismo while drinking.

    So I guess they should go specifically after the Mexicans.

  6. I should add Zorro that I have more Mexicans in my family than you do yet we promote concept of assimilation not a separatism and racism as you promote.

    You are a pathetic fool and no one ever will support your pro Mexican chauvinism.

    We are Americans or we are outsiders subject to deportation.

    I do not nee second Tijuana in Santa Ana.

    I want to have modern city here, no feathers and dancing around the bonfire.

  7. Food Statistics > Alcohol consumption > Current (most recent) by country
    VIEW DATA: Totals
    Definition Source Printable version

    Bar Graph Map Correlations

    Showing latest available data. Rank Countries Amount
    # 1 Luxembourg: 15.5 litres per capita
    Luxembourg food data

    # 2 France: 14.8 litres per capita
    French food data

    # 3 Ireland: 13.5 litres per capita
    Irish food data

    # 4 Hungary: 13.4 litres per capita
    Hungarian food data

    # 5 Czech Republic: 12.1 litres per capita
    Czech food data

    # 6 Spain: 11.7 litres per capita
    Spanish food data

    # 7 Denmark: 11.5 litres per capita
    Danish food data

    # 8 Portugal: 11.4 litres per capita
    Portuguese food data

    # 9 United Kingdom: 11.2 litres per capita
    British food data

    # 10 Austria: 11.1 litres per capita
    Austrian food data

    # 11 Switzerland: 10.8 litres per capita
    Swiss food data

    # 12 Belgium: 10.7 litres per capita
    Belgian food data

    # 13 Germany: 10.2 litres per capita
    German food data

    # 14 Australia: 9.8 litres per capita
    Australian food data

    # 15 Netherlands: 9.7 litres per capita
    Dutch food data

    = 16 Finland: 9.3 litres per capita
    Finnish food data

    = 16 Korea, South: 9.3 litres per capita
    Korean food data

    # 18 Greece: 9.2 litres per capita
    Greek food data

    # 19 New Zealand: 8.9 litres per capita
    New Zealand food data

    # 20 United States: 8.3 litres per capita
    American food data

    # 21 Poland: 8.1 litres per capita
    Polish food data

    # 22 Italy: 8 litres per capita
    Italian food data

    # 23 Canada: 7.8 litres per capita
    Canadian food data

    = 24 Japan: 7.6 litres per capita
    Japanese food data

    = 24 Slovakia: 7.6 litres per capita
    Slovak food data

    # 26 Sweden: 7 litres per capita
    Swedish food data

    # 27 Iceland: 6.5 litres per capita
    Icelandic food data

    # 28 Norway: 6 litres per capita
    Norwegian food data

    # 29 Mexico: 4.6 litres per capita
    Mexican food data

    # 30 Turkey: 1.5 litres per capita
    Turkish food data

    Weighted average: 9.6 litres per capita

  8. Dr Art,

    “It is about applying the law correctly and fairly to all residents…… no never mind if they are “from foreign lands”.”

    There is a difference between US residents and visitors from foreign lands.

    Examples: That kid from Cuba who was sent back as required by law.

    Maybe you heard of this one, the Arab woman with her kids who moved to Santa Ana, the X number wife of many wife’s of a sheik. After 6 month she filed for divorce here in California and asked for half of the family’s billions. The judge tossed the case as abuse of process.

    There is a difference between “Due Process” and “Abuse of Process”

    Don’t get mixed up with foreign nationals abusing US residents and US laws with people immigrating to the USA to start a new life.

  9. keep the check points going its definitly working…
    saw the boder patrol this morning at home depo on harbor and mccarther…they all ran to kiaser next door…

  10. Cook,

    I do not understand what you want to say.

    There is a law now on the books for unlicensed drivers. The courts have ruled the law does not consider the offender’s race or legal status. The law states that the vehicle does not necessarily have to be impounded. That it can be parked for pickup if where it is parked does not cause a public hazard.

    The Berkeley investigation found a discrepancy in application towards a specific resident because they do not complain and serves to provide financial gain for the Police, city government and specific associated impounding businesses who in some cases contribute to politicians providing them work.


    The argument that impounding a vehicle from a unlicensed driver for 30 days serves to protect the public from the vehicle being used while a drunk driver has no 30 day impounding and the alcoholic driver can post bail the same day and get the car back the same day is a illogical argument consumed with a economic, political and/or anti undocumented immigrant agenda.


  11. Other than holidays and special drinking holidays like St. Patrick’s day, you could argue it is a waste of public funds and causes unwanted traffic issues. Unfortunately you lost me when you turned it into an open borders issue instead.

    If they have no drivers license and no proof of insurance do you think they should have their car impounded? If not, I hope they only get into an accident with you instead of me. The rest of us that pay to insure our cars don’t need that headache.

    “They are simply a ruse to separate otherwise law-abiding immigrants from their cars.”

    I would guess you forgot to allow for the 2nd law they broke. You could have said otherwise law-abiding illegal aliens to cover yourself.

    Immigrant would refer to those who waited in the long line to get the ability to live here legally. How many laws do they get to have a pass on because they are “immigrants”?

    1. Mike,

      Let’s face it – most of today’s Americans are not of native stock. Their parents came from somewhere else. Now you guys want to slam the border shut – against Mexicans who ARE of native stock. Unbelievable.

      The fact is, the DUI checkpoints are a big waste of money. They exist to pay cops overtime and to steal cars from hardworking immigrants. The City Council needs to cancel these checkpoints ASAP.

  12. Doc, I don’t disagree with you, the 30 day clause is wrong and I think would be struck down in court.

    The owners should be able to retrieve their property the very next day if impounded at all.

    subject to a licensed driver picking it up, or a tow company delivering it to it final destination.

  13. motor cops are busy today. On a short trip to food for less I’ve seen 10 cars pulled over in a 10 block area of down town on my 30 minute trip.

  14. You are correct, we are all from immigrants of one type or another. The difference is some like my father actually followed our laws and did it legally.

    I can’t help it that the hacks that run this country wont do the right thing. We need to create ways to let labor in legally, but all they want is one amnesty after another.

    Drunk checkpoints are effective as a deterrent when used during high drinking holidays, but other than that they waste our money.

  15. MikeM,

    You are 100% correct.

    Please do not get caught up in the open border argument. These arguments get inserted in waste of tax money ISSUES to distract.

    This example is a tool incumbents use to pay back Police PACS through…..overtime, impound fee %’s cut from tow trucks and sales profits from unclaimed vehicles.

    Police Department Chiefs negotiate lucrative contracts with city councils which enable time during the work week they use for overtime work.

    The DUI check point provides the overtime opportunity for police officers, which provides extra pay for policemen and money for the Department from shared impounding fees with tow trucks and city along with sales profits for the department from unclaimed vehicles.

    Tax money is provided for DUI check points that have very little impact in protecting the public from drunk drivers. but big profits for city, tow trucks (that contribute to political campaigns) policemen and the Police Department.

    Policemen contribute to Police PACS that fund political campaigns of those that negotiated with their Police Chief. The contract provides extra cash for contributions and non work week days to campaign for the politicians that negotiated the lucrative contracts for their benefit.

    The city councils use our tax money for these types of schemes that channel our taxes trough lucrative contracts then the recipients of the lucrative contracts funnel money through contributions to their PACS to fund the political campaigns of the council that negotiated the contract.



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