Are DUI Crackdowns Hurting Businesses?

KFSN If you live in Fresno, and you drink and drive, chances are you will be caught...

That knowledge has kept some local restaurant and bar patrons away from their favorite night spots.

The Fresno Police Department's successful DUI Program may be hurting some local business owners.

You can see the sign from Freeway 41 as you enter downtown; Richard's Prime Rib and Seafood. But the neon lights have gone out. The restaurant's owner says patrons no longer wanted to take a chance on having dinner and drinks and driving home.

Richard's owner says he tried to entice patrons to come despite the crackdown by providing free shuttle service to and from home. But even that didn't make a difference. So after 30 years in business Richard's closed its doors.

Bob Pierce bought Richard's and another bar called 'The Crossroads' in Central Fresno three years ago; right before the Fresno Police Department began its heavy DUI enforcement.

Pierce said, "The DUI checkpoints that were set around there basically scared a good percentage of the customers away. The folks that were driving in from Kerman and some of the farm areas... The folks that were coming in ... The base of customers.... They basically quit coming."

Pierce says he's still offering rides home on his shuttle busses to patrons at the crossroads. But even on New Year's Eve only half of his expected customers showed up.

Chief Jerry Dyer of the Fresno Police Department said "It's never been our intent to impact any type of business in our community. However, it has been our intent to send a strong message that we're not going to tolerate impaired drivers on our roadway."

DUI checkpoints are just one weapon Fresno Police have used in cracking down on drunk drivers. Chief Dyer says patrol cars are saturating neighborhoods and undercover officers are on the lookout for those leaving bars and restaurants impaired.

"But our intention is that if you drink in Fresno and get behind the wheel of a car; there's a high likelihood that you're going to get arrested" said Dyer.

Pierce says he's all for cutting down on drinking and driving but he believes the Police Department needs to work with business owners so they can be a part of the solution, instead of just a perceived part of the problem.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.