DUI saturation patrols set for holiday

PLACERVILLE — For many people, the Fourth of July celebration includes alcohol, but the holiday quickly goes from festive to fatal when people choose to drive after drinking. Over the July 4 holiday period in 2012 alone, 78 people were killed in alcohol impaired-driving crashes on our nation’s roads.

To crack down on drunk driving this Fourth of July, The Avoid the 6 DUI Task Force will be out in full force, aggressively targeting those who put lives in danger.

“Every El Dorado County law enforcement agency is ramping up their enforcement to make our roads safer this Fourth of July,” said District Attorney Vern Pierson. “For everyone’s sake, don’t drink and drive or you will be targeted for arrest. The ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ campaign means zero tolerance for drunk driving — no excuses.”

The Avoid the 6 DUI task force will be cracking down on drug and alcohol impaired driving, deploying officers to 24 DUI saturation patrols. The CHP will be deploying all available officers onto freeways and county roads for its Maximum Enforcement Period.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that the Fourth of July holiday period is especially deadly. During the holiday period in 2012 (6 p.m. on July 3 to 5:59 a.m. on July 5), there were 179 people killed in crashes, and 44 percent of those crashes were alcohol-impaired.

In fatal crashes during the holiday period in 2012, more than one-fourth (28 percent) involved a driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or higher — almost twice the legal limit.

NHTSA data also reveals that 46 percent of young (age 18-34) drivers were drunk (BAC of .08 or higher) while driving in fatal crashes over the holiday period in 2012.

Drunk drivers are more common at night, too. Over the holiday period in 2012, more than a third (39 percent) of the drivers in nighttime fatal crashes (6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.) were alcohol-impaired, as compared to 16 percent of drivers in fatal crashes during the day.

“This Fourth of July holiday, you can show your patriotism by helping to make El Dorado County roads safer for everyone,” said Pierson. “Remember to ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.’ It’s as simple as that.”

If you’re caught driving drunk, you will be arrested. Aside from putting your life and the lives of others at risk, driving impaired can also lead to serious consequences. A DUI arrest can mean time in jail, loss of your license and steep financial expenses — the average DUI costs about $10,000.

Law enforcement recommends these tips to prevent drunk driving:

• Plan a safe way home before the fun begins.
• Before drinking, designate a sober driver.
• If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
• Use a community’s sober ride program.
• If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to Call 911.
• If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

Avoid the 6 DUI Task Force funding is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

El Dorado County District Attorney's Office

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