Atascadero checkpoint will target drunken, unlicensed drivers on Friday

Aiming at drunken and unlicensed drivers, the Atascadero Police Department will set up a traffic checkpoint Friday at an undisclosed location in the city.

The DUI/driver's license checkpoint will be in place between 6 p.m. and 12:30 a.m.

The checkpoint is part of an ongoing campaign to reduce the number of people killed and injured in alcohol-related crashes, according to a news release from Acting Police Chief Stephen Gesell.

“Over the course of the past three years, DUI collisions have claimed 5 lives and resulted in 47 injury crashes harming 61 of our friends and neighbors,” Gesell wrote.

Statewide, he wrote, overall traffic deaths declined by 23 percent, from 3,995 in 2007 to 3,081 in 2009.

Total traffic deaths are at their lowest levels in six decades. DUI deaths declined by 16 percent, from 1,132 in 2007 to 950 in 2009, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis reporting system.

Alcohol-impaired deaths still make up the largest category of overall vehicle fatalities, with 31 percent of all deaths being caused by a drunken driver.

“A DUI checkpoint is a proven effective method to lower this totally preventable crime,” Gesell wrote.

Officers also will check drivers to make sure they have a valid license, “since unlicensed drivers are over-represented in fatal crashes.”