Friday, June 11, 2010

Final tally of driver's license checkpoints shows 1 in 20 KC drivers are driving illegally

Last night, Kansas City Police conducted the last of six driver’s license checkpoints funded by a federal Multi-Offender grant. This checkpoint was at 3508 N.E. Vivion Road in the westbound lanes of traffic from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Police checked a total of 1,494 cars and made the following arrests and citations:

Driving while revoked/suspended – 9 (two of whom were persistent offenders)
No license or failure to produce license – 32
Other Citations – 6
Warrants Cleared – 4
Drug Arrests - 1

This specialized grant-funded project allowed Kansas City Police to conduct a large-scale driver’s license checkpoint in each of the city’s six patrol divisions over a course of six weeks. They were done in order of the particular patrol division’s radio numbers (for example, all radio numbers in Central Patrol are in the 100s, so their zone was first. Shoal Creek Patrol’s are in the 600s, so theirs was last.)

To be constitutional, the sites of the checkpoints had to be selected based on crash data. The locations were selected because of high numbers of alcohol- and drug-related crashes in those areas. Police also took into consideration safety and interruption to businesses when planning the location. For example, last night’s checkpoint targeted the high-crash intersection of Antioch and Vivion (among many other crashes at that spot, two people were killed there by a drunk driver on New Year’s Eve last year), but to set a checkpoint up in the middle of that intersection would be unsafe and would impede businesses in the area, so they used one of the streets feeding into it at a spot close to the intersection.

A total of 120 officers were trained to conduct driver’s license checkpoints through this grant, and they will continue to do so on a smaller scale in their own patrol divisions in the future. The grant also funded equipment for them to do those checkpoints.

Officers at many of these checkpoints have been heartened to hear from the public how generally supportive they are of the effort. Dozens and dozens of people who were stopped thanked police for getting unsafe drivers off the road. Studies show those driving with a suspended/revoked/or no license are involved in 20 percent of all fatality crashes. A majority of them have had their license revoked for driving while impaired, and they put lives at risk when they continue to do so.

Those involved in coordinating these driver’s license checkpoints were frankly rather stunned at the high number of revoked and unlicensed drivers on the roads. It was much higher than they predicted. Here are the grand totals from the six checkpoints over the last six weeks:

Total cars checked: 7,472

Driving while revoked/suspended – 99 (19 of whom were persistent offenders)
No license or failed to produce license – 248
DUIs – 6 (3 of whom were persistent offenders)
Convicted drunk drivers who did not have legally required ignition interlock device on their vehicles - 2
Drug arrests – 11
Warrants cleared – 176
Guns recovered – 5

The final tally is that 355 drivers – or about 5 percent of all the people officers checked in the last six weeks – were driving illegally in Kansas City. That’s 1 in every 20 cars. That’s a frightening statistic, especially when we know how these illegal drivers are 4.9 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash.

Like I mentioned, although this major operation is over for now, more than 100 KCPD officers are now trained to conduct them in their own patrol divisions and will continue to do so. As we have done in this campaign, we will notify you before the checkpoint takes place and notify you of the results afterward.

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