Avoid the 13 to be out in full force over holiday weekend
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The Fourth of July is a favorite holiday for many Americans.  

Families and friends gather to celebrate the United States with food, parades, parties and fireworks. 

For many people, the 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 the nation’s roads.

To crack down on drunk driving this Fourth of July, The Avoid the 13 DUI Task Force, including the Cotati Police Dept. and the Rohnert Park Dept. of Public Safety, will be out in full force, aggressively targeting those who put lives in danger.

“Every Sonoma County law enforcement agency is ramping up their enforcement to make our roads safer this Fourth of July,” said Petaluma Police Chief Patrick Williams, who heads up the campaign. “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 13 DUI task force will be cracking down on drug and alcohol impaired driving, deploying officers to one DUI/drivers license checkpoint, and 10 DUI saturation patrols.  The CHP will be deploying all available officers onto freeways and county roads for its Maximum Enforcement Period (MEP).

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that 10,322 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in the United States in 2012 – representing a third of all crash fatalities. Data shows that the Fourth of July holiday period is especially deadly. During the July 4th 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 every state, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent, yet people continue to break the law and drive drunk. 

According to the FBI, more than 1.28 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics in 2012.  

And the rate of high-BAC impaired driving is astounding. 

In fatal crashes during the July 4th period in 2012, more than one fourth (28 percent) involved a driver or motorcycle operator with a BAC 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 July 4 period in 2012 (6 p.m. on July 3 to 5:59 a.m. on July 5). 

Motorcycle operators are also overrepresented as the highest percentage of alcohol impaired drivers in fatal crashes. In 2012, more than one-fourth (27 percent) of the motorcycle operators in fatal crashes had a BAC of .08 or higher. 

Drunk drivers are more common at night, too. Over the July 4 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.

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