SLO now has police officer dedicated to DUI enforcement

The San Luis Obispo police station at Santa Rosa and Walnut streets.
The San Luis Obispo police station at Santa Rosa and Walnut streets.

A new position at the San Luis Obispo Police Department is solely dedicated to taking drunk drivers off the streets.

San Luis Obispo is ranked 18 out of 93 for alcohol-involved collisions among California cities with a population between 25,001 and 50,000 residents, according to a 2010 survey by the California Office of Traffic Safety, which is funding the position.

“That’s bad,” said San Luis Obispo police Captain Chris Staley. “We want to be number 93.”

Officer Tim Koznek, who has been assigned to the role, will work Wednesday through Saturday nights, when statistics indicate that most of San Luis Obispo’s DUI-related incidents occur.

Officers will always pull over a driver who exhibits clear signs of drunk driving, but “if you see a minor vehicle violation on the way to another call, you are not going to stop,” Staley said.

However, having an officer free to only focus on driving violations — rather than responding to the numerous noise and downtown bar complaints that take up officers’ time on weekends — could make a real difference in catching drunk drivers, he said.

The California Office of Traffic Safety has funded the position for one year, with the potential for renewal if effective.

“This position has been needed for a while. The town kind of runs on alcohol,” Koznek told The Tribune.

In his first weekend on the job, Koznek made six DUI arrests in the city of San Luis Obispo.

In comparison, an officer busy with other calls might make one DUI arrest in a night, Staley said.

Koznek will also provide DUI-related training to other department personnel, and community outreach.

“Hopefully knowledge of our SLOPD’s dedication in DUI enforcement will serve as a deterrent for some when the time comes to hand the keys to a sober driver,” Police Chief Steve Gesell said.