Local teens assist officers with holiday DUI checkpoint

VISTA — On Dec. 18, a Friday night when most teens were headed to a football game or movie, a half dozen teens from the North Coastal Prevention Youth Coalition staked out a DUI checkpoint with sheriffs. Teens had a brief orientation on what sheriffs look for and why it’s important to keep intoxicated drivers off the road. Then it was time to screen drivers.
From 8 to 10 p.m., teens partnered with sheriffs to cover the second station at the checkpoint where drivers are sent for further questioning. Here sheriffs gathered information on licenses and assessed whether drivers were intoxicated. Students gave drivers information on the Social Host Ordinance, which prohibits hosting parties that allow underage drinking.
“The youth coalition helped us out,” Sheriff’s Deputy Dwain Washington said. “They passed out flyers from MADD and candy canes. It makes a difference to have the kids out here.”
It was a night of education for drivers and teens. Teens distributed information to drivers and witnessed firsthand how sheriffs work to keep the streets safe.
By 10 p.m. there were no arrests for intoxication, but there were some tickets issued for failure to have a license. “You’ll see cars with pink notes for not having a license,” Washington said. Drivers who receive a ticket or who are arrested for intoxication are sent to a third station at the checkpoint. When this happens, Washington encourages teens who are observing to walk over and see the process through.
“When drivers show signs and symptoms of intoxication we pull them right out of the car,” Washington said. Drivers suspected of intoxication go through a series of five tests. The tests are a combination of performing agility tasks and following a series of directions.
Washington said most arrests for drunk driving occur after 10 p.m. In the Vista area it is usually middle class 20- to 40-year-old drivers who are arrested for intoxication. “They have a drink after work and get caught up,” Washington said. “You drink, you lose your driving license, pure and simple.”
The evening reinforced the importance of safe driving. “You’re responsible for your well-being,” Ulisces Marin, 18, said. Marin said he knows it’s his responsibility not to drink and drive and not to get into a car with a driver who is intoxicated.
DUI checkpoints will be randomly set up throughout the holidays.
See video from the event at www.coastnewsgroup.com.

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