California traffic safety officials have followed the few rules that exist for overseeing sobriety checkpoints set up by hundreds of police departments, the state auditor reported yesterday.
No federal law or state statute governs what happens at the roadway operations, according to the auditor's report. And the California Office of Traffic Safety is not required to closely monitor what happens at checkpoints it funds, which now number more than 2,000 a year.
Chris Murphy, the traffic safety office’s director, said the audit validates that the state funds lawful, lifesaving checkpoints.
“It speaks volumes to the work that my staff and law enforcement is doing,” Murphy said. “The checkpoint program has been running very efficiently and effectively.”
Fatalities on California’s roadways dropped nearly 12 percent from 2009 to 2010, which Murphy partially attributes to checkpoints.
The traffic safety office spent $16.8 million for police overtime at more than 2,500 operations during the 2010 fiscal year. Auditors noted that those sobriety checkpoints resulted in almost 28,000 citations to unlicensed drivers, compared with roughly 7,000 drunken driving arrests.