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The original item was published from 12/13/2020 12:53:00 PM to 2/14/2021 12:00:00 AM.

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Posted on: December 13, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Driving Under the Influence / Driver's License Checkpoint



Sheriff Chad Bianco

Press Release:Driving Under the Influence / Driver's License Checkpoint
Station Area:Coachella
Written Date:November 27, 2020Time:11:03 AM
Incident Date:December 11, 2020Time:7:00 PM to 2:00 AM
Incident Location:Undisclosed location in the city of Coachella
Reporting Officer:Sergeant Mariano Matos III
File Number(s):N/A


On December 11, 2020, deputies conducted a Driving Under the Influence (DUI)/Driver’s License Checkpoint at Cesar Chavez and 4th Street within the city of Coachella, between the hours of 8:00 pm and 2:00 am. The checkpoint yielded the following:

  • 363 cars screened.
  • 14 citations for unlicensed drivers.
  • 1 drug arrest.
  • 4 Misdemeanor warrant arrests.
  • 1 obstructing an officer arrest.
  • 2 public intoxication arrests.
  • 9 driving under the influence arrests.
  • 1 vehicle pursuit.

During the DUI/Driver’s License Checkpoint a white Sports Utility Vehicle was observed failing to stop at a posted traffic light next to the checkpoint. Checkpoint Deputies attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the vehicle and the driver failed to yield. The driving actions of the driver lead deputies to believe he was driving while under the influence. A vehicle pursuit was authorized and traveled through the city of Coachella, and unincorporated community of Thermal. Officers with the California Highway Patrol were able to successful deploy spike strips and disable the suspect vehicle. The driver was taken into custody and was determined to be operating the vehicle while impaired by drugs. He was arrested on suspicion of Driving Under the Influence of drugs and felony evading. The passenger was also arrested for public intoxication, providing a false name to a Peace Officer, and violation of felony probation.

The following subjects were arrested during the Check point:

  • Ivan Jimenez, 22 of Coachella, for DUI drugs
  • Carlos Valenzuela, 24 of Coachella, for a DUI warrant
  • Vincent Galindo, 30 of San Jacinto, for four narcotic warrants
  • Sergio Castro Valenzuela, 21 of Coachella, for DUI drugs
  • Ruben Ramirez, 28 of Coachella, for DUI
  • Nicholas Gil, 21 of Indio, for DUI drugs
  • Eunice Ortiz, 44 of Coachella, for DUI drugs, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Juan Jose Zavala, 21 of Indio, for DUI
  • Javier Mercado, 31 of Indio, for DUI
  • Wenceslao Rodriguez, 40 of Coachella, for DUI and reckless driving
  • Kirk Hammond, 31 of Thousand Palms, for DUI drugs, and felony evading
  • James David Burke, 28 of Yucca valley, for public intoxication, providing a false name to a Peace Officer, and violation of felony probation
  • Jayro Alarcon, 36 of Coachella, for public intoxication and a narcotic warrant

DUI Checkpoints like this one are placed in locations based on collision statistics and frequency of DUI arrests. Officers look for signs of alcohol and/or drug impairment, with officers checking drivers for proper licensing.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department reminds drivers that “DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze.” If you take prescription drugs, particularly those with a driving or operating machinery warning on the label, you might be impaired enough to get a DUI. Marijuana can also be impairing, especially in combination with alcohol or other drugs, and can result in a DUI.

In 2017, a record of 1,120 people were killed in alcohol-involved crashes on California roads. Last year, Riverside County deputies assigned to the City of Coachella investigated numerous DUI collisions which have claimed 1 life and resulted in another 5 injuries. 

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department offers these reminders to ensure you have a safe night of fun that doesn’t involve a DUI:

  • Always use a designated sober driver – a friend who is not drinking, ride-share, cab or public transportation – to get home.
  • See someone who is clearly impaired try and drive? Take the keys and help them make other arrangements to find a sober way home.
  • Report drunk drivers – Call 911.

Getting home safely is cheap, but getting a DUI is not! Drivers caught driving impaired and charged with DUI can expect the impact of a DUI arrest to be upwards of $13,500. This includes fines, fees, DUI classes, license suspension and other expenses not to mention possible jail time.


Coachella, Calif. – Riverside County Sheriff’s Department will be conducted a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) / Driver’s License Checkpoint on December 11, 2020, at an undisclosed location within the city limits between the hours of 7:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.

Checkpoint locations are chosen based on a history of DUI crashes and arrests. The primary purpose of checkpoints is not to make arrests, but to promote public safety by deterring drivers from driving impaired.

During the checkpoint, officers will look for signs that drivers are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department is committed to keeping the public safe.

“The safety of our community is and always will be our mission,” Lieutenant Andy Martinez said. “We are still out there in the middle of a pandemic because driving under the influence is still dangerous and puts a further strain on critical resources.”

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department reminds the public that impaired driving is not just from alcohol. Some prescription medications or over-the-counter drugs may interfere with driving. Always follow directions for use and read warning labels about driving or” operating heavy machinery,” which includes driving a car. While medicinal and recreational marijuana are legal, driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal.

If you plan on drinking or taking medications that may impact your ability to drive safely, plan on staying at home.

Drivers charged with DUI face an average of $13,500 in fines and penalties, as well as a suspended license.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

For media inquiries regarding this incident please contact the Media Information Bureau.

DUI Go SafelyDUI Doesn't Just Mean Booze

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