It is not unusual for drunk driving enforcement activities, particularly saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints, to negatively affect surrounding bars and restaurants.

In Visalia, a battle is brewing between law enforcement and several downtown Visalia bars and restaurants over what business owners are calling unfair policing. As reported by the Visalia Times Delta, California Highway Patrol Capt. Stephen Sullivan and Visalia Police Chief Colleen Mestas have denied a request by area businesses to decrease DUI patrols in the downtown area.

Visalia bar owners and restaurant owners claim that the heavy police presence in the downtown area is scaring off customers. “It’s called black-and-white fever. No one wants to party with a cop,” said Art Haddock, who owns the Blitz Sports Bar on Locust Street. “I am not condoningdrinking and driving. I know it’s bad. But you can’t break the law to enforce it.”

As detailed in the article, owners complain that CHP officers are parking and waiting for customers who may or may not have been drinking. Officers “pick off” a vehicle for minor infractions and almost immediately ask about alcohol use.

While some owners and patrons have characterized Visalia police and CHP tactics as entrapment, law enforcement officials maintain that police aren’t enticing downtown patrons into illegal activity.

Under California law, entrapment refers to situations where a law-abiding person is coerced into committing a crime that otherwise would not have been committed, according to Penal Code 647(a).

“Patrols are only there to catch impaired drivers before they harm themselves or someone else. Anyone who plans to or finds themselves drinking too much can and should use a designated sober driver or taxi,” said Chris Cochran, an OTS spokesman.

The message for drivers in Visalia-expect increased DUI patrols in the downtown area. In 2009, the most available numbers, Tulare County was ranked 26th of 58 California counties in DUI arrests, according to OTS.

Therefore, if you plan to visit Visalia bars and restaurants, designate a sober driver or arrange for a ride home. If not, you may find yourself asked to perform a field sobriety test by Visalia police.

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence at a California DUI checkpoint, contact our experienced DUI Defense Attorneys today. We will make sure that the checkpoint was done in accordance to specific DUI checkpoint guidelines to ensure that the arrest was done correctly.

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