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January 2, 2007 > Impaired drivers beware

Impaired drivers beware

By Steve Warga

Perhaps the only thing worse than waking up with a hangover would be to wake up in jail with a hangover ... and face charges of "driving under the influence" (DUI). Sure, you'll get over the headaches; and you'll eventually get over a DUI conviction, but it'll take a whole lot longer to clear than the hangover.

Drivers in Union City should be aware of the city's acquisition of funding and equipment to aid their battle against drunk drivers. The most visible component is a brand spanking-new, sparkling white, 23 ft., RV trailer converted for use as a mobile command post at DUI checkpoints. Boldly marked with gold and blue "Union City Police" graphics, this trailer and its accompanying personnel will be a regular presence in 2007 throughout Union City and sometimes in Hayward as cops seek to enforce the rules of the road.

To emphasize the trailer's purpose and intent, a large silhouette of a motorcycle cop commands the hinged ramp that seals the back-end while in transit. "Let impaired drivers beware," the looming shadow seems to command.

Sgt. Raymond Gedney of the department's Traffic Section says, "The trailer was purchased earlier this year, using $22,500 in grant funding from the California Office of Traffic Safety." That money is part of a total of $105,000 awarded to Union City police in 2005. Gedney says the trailer's operations budget will extend to the end of 2007 with current funding.

Two local businesses, Sign-a-Rama and Kerrrock Countertops, Inc., donated labor and materials toward outfitting the trailer for its current operations. A glance inside reveals a typical RV setup of stove, counters and booth-type seats facing either side of two small tables. Things change in front however, where the bunks have been replaced in favor of a mini-booking area with a desktop and chairs. It's here that inebriated drivers might really start feeling that hangover!

Gedney and crew have also secured grant money to fund a total of six DUI checkpoints in '07, along with training programs, and warrant service details. And they're applying for a grant to pay for expanded enforcement of seat belt laws as well.

As Gedney notes, "A significant component of traffic safety is public education." In mere presence alone, Union City's new DUI trailer will aid the education mission. With the ever-vigilant shadow cop as a reminder, drivers may well decide to stay away from the wheel after imbibing more than legally allowed. That's the whole point anyway, isn't it?

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