Remember that “Drunkest City” article? Many people out there pitched-in to poke fun at our city. To set the record straight, Sgt. Eric Hodge from the Fresno Police Department said, “[In 2009], there were 457 reported DUI crashes, of which 79 had an injury. The FPD made 3,268 DUI arrests.”
But let’s take a second look at those statistics. There are discrepancies that the Fresno State Alcohol Safety Council Student Subcommittee would like to point out that the Men’s Health magazine, USA Today and even The Collegian overlooked:
1. Size matters. It’s hard to accurately compare a moderately sized city like Fresno to a metropolis like Los Angeles or New York City. Fresno is spread out, and most people commute to get to school or work. For places like New York City, it’s easier to walk or take the subway to go somewhere. So, naturally, Fresno has more DUI checkpoints because most of the bars and clubs here are not within walking distance.
2. How many DUI checkpoints do we have? Hodge stated, “We generally have one, sometimes two, DUI operations each weekend night and have motorcycles assigned to work nights. [They] spend a lot of time looking for drunk drivers.” That’s more than what Las Vegas has done. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department admitted to only doing monthly DUI checkpoints in 2009. Seems odd that Fresno is better at checking drunk driving than Sin City itself. You would think that Vegas would be extremely cautious since most tourists there are ready to throw away all their inhibitions. You would think.
3. Funding. Fresno takes drunk driving seriously, and it is evident in how much is contributed to keep drunk drivers off the streets. Said Hodge, “[FPD’s] traffic unit is pretty large for the population of the city and they aggressively target DUI’s more than most agencies.” Much of the funding comes from the Office of Traffic Safety grants, which supplies the monetary support for DUI checkpoints.
So why do these things matter? “The basis for [the ‘Men’s Health’] article has a lot to do with the aggressive stance that the FPD takes toward DUIs,” Hodge said. They do a lot to make sure everyone is being responsible when getting into the driver’s seat. “We look like we have a lot of drunk drivers because we are better at finding them,” Hodge stated.
Hmm, thanks for the clarification, Sgt. Hodge. Still think the “drunkest city” label is a joke? It’s a joke all right. Be thankful we have the resources to keep our streets safe.
Ashley Tomas is a senior at Fresno State. She is graduating this May with a degree in Psychology and is currently the Chair for the Alcohol Safety Council Student Subcommittee.