Dexter Filming Locations: The DNA Checkpoint


The location: The DNA Checkpoint.

Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. A street where police have set up a DNA checkpoint.

Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. Somewhere between Tampa and Miami, Florida.

Q. When did we see it on the show?

    A. In Episode 8 (of Season 4), "Road Kill".

    Dexter and Arthur Mitchell (The Trinity Killer) have just finished an eventful trip to Tampa, during which Arthur dragged Dexter to his childhood home (where he told Dex the story about his sister's bloody death), and then tried to kill himself by leaping from the top of a building.

    Now, in this scene, they are on their way home, back to Miami.

    We see then driving around a bend in the road. Dexter mentions Arthur's recent suicide attempt, but he brushes it off as a mere mistake ("We all make mistakes.")

    Up ahead, Dexter spots one of the DNA checkpoints set up by the police to help trap the
    Trinity Killer.

    Police plan to stop cars at the roadblocks, then take a DNA sample (via a mouth swab) from anyone matching Lundy's rough description of the suspect ("tall, gray hair, blue eyes, about 60.". They will then match the DNA samples against DNA they recovered from Trinity's crime scenes.

    Dexter thinks to himself: "Let's see how much you want to live, Arthur."

    He then tells Trinity that he heard about this on the radio, that the police are hunting for some "huge serial killer", that they've got his DNA and are trying to match it.

    Not unexpectedly, Arthur decides to make a U-turn and head back the way he came, suggesting they take "the scenic route".

Q. What is it actually in real life?

    A. A street, but nowhere near Tampa or Miami..

Q. Where can I find it in real life?

    A. This is Marina Drive in Long Beach, CA, just a quarter mile south of the SeaPort Marina Hotel where they filmed the Tampa hotel scenes.

    Dexter & Trinity's van was traveling southwest on Marina Drive. That channel of water you see on the other side of the road is the south end of the San Gabriel River (which divides runs Seal Beach and Long Beach).

    Marina Drive is on a narrow jetty of land that extends between that channel on one side and the Alamitos Bay Marina on the other. On the marina side, the road is lined by a series of large parking lots, containing a number of seafood restaurants.

    When we first see Dexter & Trinity in the van, they are rounding the curve from E. Marina Drive to N. Marina Drive.  (You can glimpse a boating store out the passenger-side window.) Then the road straightens out and heads southwest.

    They set up the DNA checkpoint at a turn-in to one of these parking lots, between the Crab Pot restaurant (at 215 Marina Drive) and the Schooner Or Later restaurant (at 241 Marina Drive).

    I shot the photos below in 2009.

    In the shot above, we are looking back, northeast, on Marina Drive, midway between where they set up the
    flashing "Checkpoint Ahead / Prepare to Stop" sign and where they set up the DNA checkpoint.

    In the shot below, we are looking ahead, southwest, on Marina Drive. from the basically same spot.

    Here is an aerial photo. And here is a map link.

Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?

    A.  I've driven this street several times (including once when I was searching for the boating store), so I recognized it when I saw it.

    Also, back when they were filming at the nearby hotel, I noticed food service tables set up on Marina Drive (used to feed the crew), so I kept an eye out for a scene filmed somewhere on the street.

    Once I saw the scene, it was just a matter of pinpointing the exact spot on Marina Drive where they set up the road block, and that was easy due to that blue pipe in the red-tile divider (visible in the second photo from the top).

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