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Sounding Off: DUI checkpoints help, but please mind the location

September 20, 2010

I was coming home at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday after a very long day at work. I had had a 7:30 a.m. Leadership Team Meeting, followed by a full day of teaching, followed by Back-to-School Night at Buena Terra School in Buena Park, where I teach.

I had no idea what was happening on Harbor Boulevard when I exited the freeway on my way home. I was almost hit three times on the offramp as other drivers slammed on their brakes because of the massive traffic back-up on Harbor. Then, when I navigated my way on to Harbor to make a right turn onto Gisler Avenue, there were signs announcing a DUI checkpoint just ahead. The Costa Mesa Police Department had virtually blocked off the entrance to the ARCO gas station at Harbor and Gisler.

The police also were blocking the left turn lane from Harbor to Gisler. They were forcing traffic down Harbor and reducing the number of lanes quickly. I was finally able to inch around the right corner at Gisler where two more police cars had pulled other drivers over. I proceeded very slowly and carefully past the TeWinkle School, where the parking lot was just emptying from an event. I was not stopped and made my way home.

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I have no objection to police department setting up DUI checkpoints; however, this one was very poorly placed. Had it been moved down a block or two, there would not have been the horrific scene happening at Harbor and Gisler, and Harbor and the 405 freeway. That same evening, my husband came home at 10:30 p.m. and the same nonsense was continuing. His remark upon carefully navigating the Harbor-Gisler nightmare was, "Why didn't the police move it a little farther down Harbor?"

Apparently Jim Righeimer, who I have never met, saw the same problems we did with the placement of the DUI checkpoint ("Righeimer, police dispute at DUI checkpoint," Sept. 18). He was also apparently there much earlier — at 6:30 p.m. — according to your article. So, we support the Police Department having the checkpoints, but please pay attention to where they are located. When traffic is impacted while exiting from the freewand traffic is backed up north of the 405 on Harbor, that can become a very dangerous situation.

NANCY MARCUS lives in Costa Mesa.

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