More sobriety checkpoints will pop up on Duval County roads beginning this summer.
Jacksonville police plan to increase the frequency of the stops from about two a year to two per month — or roughly 60 checkpoints over the course of two years.
That’s because the City Council approved a nearly $500,000 grant aimed at reducing the number of impaired-driving deaths.
At a recent City Council Finance Committee meeting, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Director of Patrol and Enforcement Ray Walden said checkpoints are normally set up in areas with lots of accident deaths, but going forward locations will be chosen using data related to two-wheeled vehicles.
“[JSO will be] looking at the fatalities, crashes, citation data as it relates to motorcycles,” Walden said.
The grant, which doesn’t require any local match, is from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, a nonprofit that works to solve health and safety issues in communities.
The money was given to JSO to implement what it calls “strategies for enforcement of impaired motorcycles,” in the Council bill.
JSO data presented to Council show 87 percent of last year’s single-motorcycle accident fatalities were drug or alcohol related.
Walden said it’s illegal for JSO to pull over just motorcyclists, so officers will either pull over every vehicle or pull over all vehicles in a pattern, such as every third or fifth vehicle.
But James Reichenbach, the Florida president of motorcycle-rights group, American Bikers Aiming Toward Education, says he’s not convinced officers won’t profile motorcyclists.
“It’s not against the law to record and to watch and we will do it at every stop — every time they stop somebody,” he said.
Reichenbach has been speaking against the bill at Council committee meetings.
Chief Assistant with the Office of General Counsel Stephen Durden said as long as no type of vehicle or person is singled-out for a checkpoint stop, JSO’s plan is legal.
“You can choose the place randomly. You can choose the place based on motorcycle accidents — perhaps you find that there’s more danger there,” he said.
Councilwoman Lori Boyer asked for clarification during the meeting. She said since it's not a constitutional violation to select a checkpoint location based on vehicle-type, what if JSO decided to choose a check point location based on data related to a type of person.
“Can I select based on whether they have a beard or whether they have a leather jacket or what race they are?” she said.
Durden said he would advise against it.
Police say the frequent checkpoint stops could begin as soon as August.