Increased DUI Enforcement and Drunk Driving Incidents a Significant Part of the Holidays
By: Chris Kramer
The holidays mean good times, family gatherings, and company parties, but they also mean increased DUI enforcement and drunk driving incidents.
The holiday season has just begun, and law enforcement agencies are strictly enforcing DUI laws to avoid drunk driving accidents, injuries and casualties. Over the Thanksgiving weekend alone:
- 39 people were arrested on suspicion of drunk driving charges in Tuscon, Arizona. Setting up a checkpoint in the city on Friday night, the Southern Arizona DUI Task Force stopped more than 1,000 cars in the process, according to Pima County Sheriff's Lieutenant Karl Woodridge, who added that nearly 40 officers from various law enforcement agencies patrolled the Tuscon area for violators of Arizona DUI laws.
- 40 Nebraska DUI arrests were made by extra patrol troopers from early Wednesday afternoon to throughout Sunday. During this period, Nebraska troopers contacted 2,090 motorists and issued 1,623 speeding tickets. The Nebraska State Patrol had the extra troopers on duty to enforce Nebraska DUI laws thanks in part to a $17,000 grant from the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety.
- The city of Santa Clarita, California has partnered with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station in a new Anti-DUI program that aims to attack perpetrators of California DUI laws during the holidays via various mediums. Television and print advertisements will display a person getting a DUI and contrast the costs of a drink with DUI penalties. The city is also partnering in a statewide campaign aiming to reduce Californians between the ages of 21-34 from driving impaired during the holidays. 375 Santa Clarita, California DUI arrests were made in 2005.
- According to a preliminary report from the California Highway Patrol, 1,537 people were arrested in the state for driving under the influence from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Saturday. Twenty percent of those California DUI arrests occurred in Los Angeles County. 38 people were killed in traffic collisions statewide this Thanksgiving weekend, a figure that is down from last year's 52 statewide deaths but up from Los Angeles County's totals during that period.
Revealing DUI Figures for the Holidays
These increased efforts are motivated in part by past National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research on drunk driving related fatalities during the holidays.
From Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve of 2004, the NHTSA reported 3,511 total traffic fatalities. 37% of those fatalities (approximately 1,316) were alcohol-related. Thanksgiving was first with 179 alcohol-related fatalities, Christmas second with 147 and New Year's Eve third with 42.
While enforcement programs are stepped up during the holidays, the fact remains that people tend to drink more during this time of the year. Ultimately, safety will come down to each person being responsible after drinking by selecting a designated driver, leaving his or her vehicle and catching a ride from a sober friend, taking public transportation, or hailing a cab.