By Dale Gribow
Did you know that if you had a DUI in the past you are on a “list” with the Riverside County Sheriff Department’s Palm Desert office? We call them the Palm Desert Police Department and they have a Traffic Unit. Yes, big brother has arrived! New patrol cars now have three cameras mounted on top that scan license plates of other vehicles which are run automatically for warrants etc.
These traffic units target drivers with multiple convictions or prior arrests with HIGH Blood Alcohol levels. These drivers are then evaluated for their potential risk to the motoring public. Those drivers with the highest risk to public safety are then targeted for surveillance under the Habitual DUI Driver Stakeout Program.
The stakeouts are to prevent accidents that are related to drinking and they are funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety. That is why the local police departments can afford to put officers on the street to monitor this and not just misdemeanor and felony crimes.
The purpose of these stakeouts is to prevent drivers from driving drunk or being under the influences of drugs. There is technically no such thing as Drunk Driving. The correct title is Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, Drugs or the combined influence of Alcohol and Drugs. You are considered under the influence when your ability to drive is impaired. You are impaired if you blood level is .08 but if you had any kind of drug……..prescriptive or illegal, you can and will be under the influence sooner.
If you have multiple convictions for DUI’s then there is a good chance you are on probation. A condition of your probation is that you not drive within 6-8 hours of drinking any alcohol….or a time limit similar to that (every court is slightly different). Thus any alcohol on your breath could potentially violate you. You must also remember that many prescriptive drugs can increase the affect of the alcohol and that is called Potentiation.
We all see warnings on the side of our prescriptions that say “do not operate heavy equipment.” They are not talking about tractors and trailers anymore but rather autos. Why they do not spell that out I do not know.
Did you know that the Greater Palm Springs community has the highest number of deaths from DUI’s than any other part of the country…per capita. Thus there is a greater focus here on alcohol related accidents than anywhere in the country. That is why we have regular checkpoints  here in the desert. Law enforcement wants to stop not only those who drink and drive but those with NO VALID LICENSE by issuing a 14601 Vehicle Code violation. However it is important to note that a 14601 VC is a misdemeanor and will carry a jail sentence and fines.
These stakeouts are funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety by way of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That is why Palm Desert Sheriff, and other cities,  can afford to have this separate effort to arrest you and protect the greater public.
Thus the motto is do not drink and drive. It is cheaper to hire a driver or have a designated driver. Unfortunately all to often the Designated Driver drinks with their friends and are as loaded as those they are supposed to protect.
Remember if you get stopped that field sobriety tests at the scene are voluntary as is the breath test at the scene. Just be courteous and explain that you understand them to be voluntary and if that is correct you ELECT not to take them. A breath or blood test at the station would be MANDATORY. If you take a blood test it will take more time for the officer to get someone licensed to draw blood. That is good if you had been drinking over two hours ago.
If you have any questions regarding this column or ideas for future columns please contact Dale Gribow at Dale Gribow Attorney at Law at our NEW number  
760 837 7500 and or our new email of