Speed sting: CHP issues 162 tickets, impounds 15 vehicles
By Layla Bohm
News-Sentinel Staff Writer
Last updated: Saturday, Mar 03, 2007 - 07:26:38 am PST

Fifteen extra California Highway Patrol officers and six undercover officers about double the normal number of officers on patrol swarmed San Joaquin County's highways Friday, cracking down on speeding and reckless driving.

Between noon and 7 p.m. officers impounded 15 vehicles, arrested one person for driving under the influence and issued 162 citations, two for driving more than 100 mph, said Officer Adrian Quintero.
Officer Adrian Quintero drives down Highway 99 looking for speeding cars, modified vehicles and reckless drivers on Friday in Stockton. (Whitney Ramirez/News-Sentinel)

The grant-funded operation was held during the hours when many teens get out of school for the weekend and start racing, said Quintero.

"We're pulling everyone over," he said as he turned on his marked car's flashing lights and stopped a white Cadillac that had a tinted windshield.

The operation came three days after a speeding car full of five Tokay High School students lost control on West Lane, killing three of the passengers. A fourth passenger was released from the hospital Thursday and the Lodi driver, 18-year-old Yasir Ahmad, was upgraded from fair to good condition Friday evening at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.

The CHP sting had been planned before the fatal crash, but Quintero said the tragedy demonstrated the consequences of speeding. While officers patrolled on the ground and stopped numerous vehicles Friday, a plane also flew overhead to spot more speeders.

Officers were looking out for cars that have been modified, which is often an indication that the driver participates in speed contests, Quintero said. Under California law, it is illegal to change the fuel rail, injectors and air intake system, among other changes under the car's hood.

If a vehicle is stopped for reckless driving, the driver can be arrested and the vehicle impounded for 30 days. Such towing and storage fees alone generally run more than $1,000, not counting the cost of a ticket and finding another means of transportation for a month.

"We're trying to hit them in the pocket book," Quintero said. "They know if they do it again, it's going to be another $1,500 to $1,800."

Many such drivers are young, and Quintero said officers have even seen teens blocking off the West Lane frontage road near Hammer Lane in Stockton, solely for the purpose of racing.

Joaquin Lopez, 18, who drove his Honda to the CHP office off Highway 99 to take care of a ticket for having illegal car parts, said he's seen friends involved in such races.

"It's fun, but it's dangerous," the Gustine resident said, adding that a friend's cousin was killed last year during a street race on Charter Way.

One week before the sting, a plane was patrolling over Thornton and spotted a group of 12 motorcyclists. They had no idea a plane overhead was videotaping the activity until enough patrol cars could arrive to stop them. As the camera rolled, drivers lined up and then sped off, one using the wrong side of the road.

Eleven of the riders were arrested and all 12 motorcycles were impounded, Quintero said.

Contact reporter Layla Bohm at layla@lodinews.com.

Illegal vehicle modifications
More than two dozen common vehicle modifications are illegal and are each a separate violation of California's Vehicle Code. They include:
Tinted front side windows and windshield
Body frame that is lower than the lowest point of the wheel rim
Missing bumpers
Blue and white headlights
Turn signals that are not white or yellow in the front and red or yellow in the rear
Decorative lights, including undercarriage lights
Lighted license plate frames
Noisy exhaust systems and mufflers under new law, officers do not need to use sound meters in order to issue tickets

Source: California Highway Patrol

Tickets issued
Officers issued 162 tickets:
2 for traveling 100 mph or more.
67 for speeding.
11 for seatbelt violations.
2 for tailgating.
56 for mechanical violations for emissions modifications and window tinting.
15 for registration violations.
1 for driving on suspended license.
8 for other moving violations, including unsafe lane changes and illegally passing.

Officers also asked prosecutors to criminally charge three drivers with reckless driving and one for exhibition of speed.

Source: CHP Officer Adrian Quintero

'Start Smart' program offered for new drivers
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 15 and 20 is vehicle collisions. Additionally, teen drivers are found at fault in 66 percent of all fatal collisions, though they only make up 4 percent of California's registered drivers.

Because of those statistics, the Stockton-area office of the California Highway Patrol offers a safety seminar for teen drivers and their parents. The next class will be held Wednesday.

Called "Start Smart," the two-hour sessions address ways to avoid accidents, alcohol trends and driver responsibility. CHP officers and an insurance representative are available to answer questions.

Wednesday's class will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at the CHP office, 3330 N. Ad Art Road, in Stockton. The next course will be held April 11. To register for the class, call 943-8666.

News-Sentinel staff

Penalties for street racing
Jail sentence of up to 90 days.
Vehicle impounded for 30 days, with towing and storage fees that cost more than $1,000.
If fees are not paid for an impounded vehicle, it can be sold by the tow company.
Those aiding and abetting a street race face up to 90 days in jail and a fine of $500.

Source: California Highway Patrol

First published: Saturday, March 3, 2007