patrol, which fielded nine two-officer patrol units with the sole
intent of tracking down impaired drivers, was the first such patrol
operation the department has conducted in nearly two years, Sgt. Rich
"When someone looks out the window of a bar tonight, I want them
to see red and blue lights," Allum told officers during a briefing
before they hit the streets.
Costa Mesa police have a reputation for catching drunken drivers.
Officers routinely win Century Awards from Mothers Against Drunk
Driving, presented for making more than 100 DUI arrests in a year.
This year, Officer Tony Yannizzi earned his fifth one.
Yannizzi and Allum -- who teamed up on Friday -- have made
thousands of DUI arrests. Part of their success is their training and
knowing how to spot impaired drivers.
But the sheer numbers of them passing through the city mean many
impaired drivers come to the officers, Allum pointed out.
"There's just so darn many of them," he said.
Last year, half of Costa Mesa's 10 fatal traffic crashes were
alcohol-related, Allum said.
Sobriety checkpoints are one, high-profile way of bringing
attention to the problem. Though Costa Mesa police usually arrest
about 10 impaired drivers during a checkpoint, the operation's main
purpose is education, Allum said.
Friday's beefed-up patrols were funded by grants the department
received from the state Office of Traffic Safety in a program called
Remove Aggressive and Impaired Drivers. It added eight police cars
and a helicopter patrol to the regular DUI roving patrols the
department fields four days a week.
"These are more effective than checkpoints, but they don't educate
as many people -- just the person getting arrested," Allum said. "But
it serves a purpose. It takes an impaired driver off the road."
The patrol cars headed out just before 9 p.m. Friday.
Erratic driving can give officers cause to pull over a driver. So
can a broken tail light or darkened headlights after nightfall.
During their first half hour on the street, Allum and Yannizzi
made a rapid succession of four car stops for minor vehicle code
violations. None of those drivers was impaired, and all were let off
with a warning.