Holiday DUI Enforcement Producing Early Results and Putting Drivers on Notice
By: Mike Stetzer
December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, as increased DUI enforcement is often needed during this time of holiday parties and yuletide cheer.
In fact, several states have already noticed the results of their extra efforts to crackdown on drunk driving prior to Christmas and New Year's Day:
- Arizona DUI arrests exceeded 200 a during mass holiday enforcement on the night of Saturday, December 18th. According to a news release from the Arizona Office of Highway Safety, two dozen participating state law enforcement agencies made a combined 3, 136 stops on that night.
Of the people arrested, 66 had a blood alcohol content of 0.15 percent or higher, which is nearly two times the 0.08 percent legal limit in Arizona DUI law. The average BAC on Saturday night was 0.137. The news release also said that 1,300 people have been arrested on suspicion of DUI in the state since the sweeps began on Thanksgiving.
- Seven Charlotte DUI arrests were made from late Thursday night to early Friday morning at a Booze It and Lose It checkpoint. Officials from various North Carolina law agencies, including N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement, took part in the checkpoint and plan to do so in other checkpoints throughout the weeks to further curb drinking and driving during the holidays.
- Contra Costa County's 2006 Avoid the 25 anti-DUI campaign kicked off in grand style as 34 people were arrested on last Wednesday night. 22 of those arrests were based on suspicion of drunk driving. These arrests come in lieu of the county arresting 52 drunken driving defendants during the previous week for various violations, including failure to appear in court, pay fines or attend programs required under California DUI law after an arrest.
According to the California Highway Patrol, the Bay Area's 18-day Avoid campaign will include a total of 125 agencies conducting more than 20 sobriety checkpoints and several nights of intensive patrols. The program will end on New Year's Day.
Fresno and San Francisco are just some other California cities conducting similar programs during the next weeks. In fact, the city of Carson received a $163,014 federal grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety to begin working with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Carson Station on a drunk driving educational and enforcement program.
- With Penn State University beginning Christmas break, police officers in the area will begin a crackdown on underage drunk driving. Extra Pennsylvania police patrols will be on duty from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. through January 1st to attempt to stop drunk driving accidents, and will also be investigating underage parties and the sale of alcohol to minors.
- As part of its recently formed Gore Range DUI Task Force, the city of Vail, Colorado will enhance its drunk-driving enforcement in the next couple of weeks by having eight to 12 extra officers on alert.
As if this increased mobilization of police forces wasn't enough to persuade people to not drink and drive during the holidays, the financial costs associated with DUI may hit people where it affects them the most: in their pockets.
A recent MSNBC story estimated average DUI costs to be $10,000 on average. That's a lot of money which could be going to Christmas presents!
In all seriousness, DUI penalties are no laughing matter. A man in Sarasota, Florida was just sentenced to 15 years in prison for DUI manslaughter, thus revealing how severe drunk driving accidents can be for all involved.
With many police officers on patrol and people on the roads en route to visiting family members during the holidays, remember to be safe and responsible. If you choose to drink at family gatherings, be sure to have a designated driver on hand.