Since You Asked: Cruising was once a common activity in Marysville
Q: I have noticed signs when entering Marysville that state cruising is prohibited. What exactly does that mean? For example, if I wanted to take an afternoon drive with no specific destination, could I be cited or arrested?
A: Nobody's going to jail for it.
A citation is unlikely these days, but technically possible.
Passed in 1986, the ordinance banning cruising in downtown Marysville carries a very specific definition.
The city formally described "cruising" as driving through the downtown area, basically in a loop, three or more times within a four-hour period. Buses, taxis and other business-related driving were exempt.
Also, officers must first issue a warning — in writing — before citing a driver.
Before the law, young drivers cruised primarily from E Street to Third Street over to D Street up to Ninth Street and back again, police Sgt. Chris Sachs explained.
It added to traffic congestion, but mostly, cruisers were just annoying, at worst. Shouting back and forth, blaring loud music and generally being young and having fun in cars.
However, a few knuckleheads managed to ruin everything.
"It went from something popular to something that included more of a criminal element," Sachs said. "There were fights and a few stabbings, and the city decided to put a stop to it."
A first infraction costs drivers $75, and subsequent violations came with a $150 price tag each time.
It's not an issue anymore.
In fact, it's been more than a decade since police ticketed anyone for cruising, Sachs said.
So, there's nothing preventing a pleasant, aimless afternoon drive through Marysville, except maybe traffic. And gas prices.
Q: Why are DUI checkpoints announced? Doesn't that give the drinkers a heads-up to take a detour?
A: Such announcements are required to participate in state and federal DUI grant programs. Arrests aren't the main goal of a checkpoint, Sachs said.
"We also like announcing them because we hope by warning drivers through the media, people will be less likely to drink and drive in the first place," Sachs said.
Police departments don't disclose a checkpoint's specific location.
When it comes to making DUI arrests, there are more effective tactics police can use, such as so-called "saturation patrols." Officers flood the streets with additional patrols and specifically target impaired drivers.
It should be mentioned that while it is required for law enforcement to provide a public announcement of upcoming checkpoints, there is no such requirement for the media to put the information out to the public. It has been the Appeal-Democrat's policy to publish information in news releases outlining upcoming checkpoints.
Since You Asked is published on Mondays. Send questions to reporter Rob Parsons at the Appeal-Democrat, 1530 Ellis Lake Drive, Marysville, CA 95901, email him at rparsons @appealdemocrat.com or call 749-4785.