Our name is Sacramento, and we have a problem.

When I first moved to these fair parts several years ago, one of the things I took note of was the casual attitude where DUI was concerned. People here don’t take drinking and driving very seriously compared to where I’ve lived before. It’s so commonly done and accepted that I’ve seen off duty cops do it (and even a certain coach of your Sacramento Kings). I’ve had difficulty understanding how unconcerned people here are with impaired driving and the risks that come with it.

It’s no surprise our region is rife with buildings crashing into our moving vehicles.

I felt some vindication about my feelings on this issue when I came across Marcus Breton’s article in Bee today:

It seemed like a misprint: A random DUI sweep Friday night in central and south Sacramento netted 57 people who were cited on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Seven were on bicycles!

It took the California Highway Patrol just eight hours to round these people up. And the numbers aren’t considered an aberration.

Eight hours to round up about sixty people comes to about seven to eight people an hour – more than one every ten minutes, including the bicyclists (take that, Davis!) Moreover, this was just a sweep of central and south Sacramento.

Is there something lacking in our approach to the problem? Breton’s article points out that we may just not have enough enforcement:

…Sac PD’s traffic division needs to get bigger, though reinforcements won’t come anytime soon in this economy.

Fresno has 71 traffic officers and the best numbers for drunken driving enforcement in California. Sacramento has 22 traffic officers.

See, Fresno, you’re not always so bad.

While I’m sure local drivers appreciate the warning, one thing I’ve always found amusing are press releases like these, announcing that for a weekend local police will be setting up a DUI checkpoint. What’s even more amusing is how easy it is to escape these checkpoints when you’re end up at one. I’m not sure the manner in which these checkpoints are publicized and set up is effective at stopping the behavior. But, I’m no law enforcement expert.

It’s also more than a lack of enforcement. It’s cultural. In the other cities that I’ve lived, people don’t take a passive approach to drunk driving, expecting that law enforcement will handle the problem. Not driving while impaired is a shared value. People take a personal interest in making sure they are out with a designated driver, or have another way to get home. Or, they just don’t drink. But here? We’re not concerned about the risks we’re putting ourselves and other drivers to when we drive after drinking. We’re concerned about just getting home without getting caught. But, as CoolDMZ noted here earlier and what Breton mentions, we’re not really getting away with it:

According to the state Office of Traffic Safety, Sacramento is the city with the most fatal crashes as well as the most fatal crashes in which alcohol was a factor.

Think about that the next time you’re on the road.

4 thoughts on “Our name is Sacramento, and we have a problem.”

  1. “What’s even more amusing is how easy it is to escape these checkpoints when you’re end up at one.”

    Perhaps they think that if you’re sober enough to figure it out you’re sober enough to drive. And there’s probably some truth to that.


  2. Love this story about Nocioni’s DUI arrest

    The Bee was unable to confirm which nightclub – or clubs – Nocioni visited after the game. However, the arrest was made down the street from several of Sacramento’s more trendy nightspots.

    How does one determine a trendy nightspot?

    “There’s no past history here,” said Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie. “Hopefully an isolated but very, very unfortunate event. He’s actually been playing better. He’s a very good teammate. I’m sure he’ll do everything he can to move past it and make it right.”

    What does his recent play have to do with this?


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