Law enforcement agencies to escalate anti-DUI campaign
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From mid-August through Labor Day, police, sheriff and CHP officials in Sonoma County will be out in force as part of the annual nationwide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” crackdown on drunk driving.   The crackdown, which will include high-visibility enforcement throughout Sonoma County, will run from Aug. 16-Sept. 2.

The nationwide drunk driving crackdown will include high-visibility enforcement, high-profile events and will be supported by national paid advertising, creating a comprehensive campaign to curb drunk driving in August and through the Labor Day holiday weekend.

Petaluma Police Chief Patrick Williams said the Avoid the 13 DUI Task Force will be aggressively looking for drunk drivers during the crackdown and will arrest anyone caught driving drunk.  Plans are in place for four DUI/drivers license checkpoints, multi-agency strike team operations, local roving DUI saturation patrols every day during the campaign, a DUI warrant/probation sweep and two DUI court stings targeting suspended drivers who were ordered by the judge not to drive.

Although it is illegal with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, many people across the nation get behind the wheel after consuming too much alcohol.  The latest statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration underscore the serious nature of the nation’s continuing drunk driving epidemic.

“Every year, about one third of all motor vehicle traffic deaths involve one or more drunk drivers or motorcycle operators,” Williams said.  “In 2011 9,878 people died in crashes involving drunk drivers.  That works out to approximately one drunk driving fatality every 53 minutes.  In California, 774 died due to the crime of impaired driving.”

Chief Williams added that long weekends such as the Labor Day holiday are particularly dangerous. During the Labor Day weekend in 2011, a total of 138 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes involving drivers or motorcycle riders with a .08 percent BAC or higher.  Of those fatalities, 83 percent occurred during early evening and overnight, from 6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.  In California, 11 people were killed during the holiday weekend involving a driver at a .08 percent BAC or higher.

Drunk driving takes a particularly heavy toll among young drivers.  Among 18 to 34-year-old drivers killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes during the 2011 Labor Day weekend, 42 percent were alcohol-impaired.

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