Pacific Beach leads San Diego’s neighborhoods in the number of DUI arrests, as you may remember from this Fact Check, but a higher number of DUI checkpoints doesn’t completely account for the disparity.

Using arrest statistics from the San Diego Police Department, I created the graphic above, which compares the number of arrests made at DUI checkpoints across the city in recent years.

As it turns out, the number of arrests from DUI checkpoints accounted for just 26 of 514 arrests in Pacific Beach last year. The previous year, when police made 595 DUI arrests in Pacific Beach, the department conducted no DUI checkpoints across the entire city.

The Police Department only conducts DUI checkpoints when it receives grant money, usually from federal transportation agencies, to pay for officers’ overtime. Officer Mark McCullough, who coordinates the department’s checkpoints, said each costs between $10,000 and $12,000.

But since 2008, the number of DUI checkpoints picked up. Through more grant money, the department conducted six in 2009 and twelve so far in 2010. Police have funding for three more through September and 20 more through next year.

Even though checkpoints make up a small portion of overall DUI arrests, Pacific Beach still stands out. Police typically arrest more people per checkpoint in Pacific Beach compared to the rest of the city and nearly half of the department’s checkpoints have been conducted there.

Police had an average of 15 DUI arrests per checkpoint in Pacific Beach compared to an average of 12 arrests elsewhere. At the same time, Pacific Beach checkpoints don’t always generate the highest number of DUI arrests. In June, two downtown checkpoints each netted more than 20 arrests.

If you want to see the exact location of each DUI checkpoint since 2007, I’ve posted the Police Department’s statistics here.


Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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