‘Avoid the 13 Task Force’ to heighten weekend patrols
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Most Americans may not realize it, but the Fourth of July is one of the deadliest holidays of the year because of alcohol-impaired driving crashes.

That’s why this Fourth of July, law enforcement throughout Sonoma County, including the Rohnert Park Dept. of Public Safety and the Cotati Police Dept., is stepping up enforcement efforts as part of the ongoing Avoid the 13 DUI Task Force, joining thousands of agencies statewide in the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” enforcement crackdown to catch and arrest impaired drivers who put themselves and others at risk.

The Sonoma County DUI Task Force will be cracking down on drug- and alcohol-impaired driving, deploying officers to two DUI/Drivers License checkpoints, and numerous DUI saturation patrols countywide.  The CHP began deploying all available officers onto freeways and county roads for its Maximum Enforcement Period (MEP) on Wednesday, July 3rd and will continue through midnight on Sunday, July 7.

Impaired-driving crashes killed more than 10,000 people in 2010, accounting for 31 percent of all traffic-related fatalities in the United States.  That’s an average of one alcohol-impaired-driving fatality every 51 minutes. Even without a crash, there are numerous consequences as a result of being caught driving impaired, such as jail time, insurance hikes, loss of driver’s license, embarrassment and costs up to $10,000.

The percentage of fatalities from impaired driving spike around the Fourth of July. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 392 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes during the Fourth of July holiday in 2010. 

Often Fourth of July celebrations start during the day, but last well into the night – making the dangers from impaired drivers even higher at night. 

What is even more tragic about the statistics is the high number of fatalities among 18- to 34-year-olds. Forty-six percent of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities during the 2010 Fourth of July holiday period were within this age group. 

The Avoid the 13 DUI Task Force recommends these simple tips for a safe Fourth of July:

• 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 your community’s sober ride program.

• If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to report it - Call 911!

• Remember, “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.” 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.

• For more information, go to www.nhtsa.gov/drivesober.

Avoid the 13 DUI Task Force funding is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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