With holiday celebrations in full swing, the California Highway Patrol and the Avoid the 13 Sonoma County DUI Task Force are preparing for increased enforcement throughout the heavy travel period to help ensure safety on the road.
The CHP is reminding travelers to play by the rules behind the wheel: buckle up, adhere to the posted speed limit, avoid distractions behind the wheel, and never drive while impaired.
The Avoid the 13 Sonoma County DUI Task Force has two checkpoints planned in Petaluma Friday night. The exact locations will not be disclosed to the public. The checkpoints will be conducted between 7 p.m. and 3 a.m.
Law enforcement officers county-wide have reported 43 DUI arrests since the start of the winter holiday campaign on Friday, Dec. 14. There has only been one injury DUI collision injuring one person reported by CHP Santa Rosa Area on Friday evening, Dec. 14.
Avoid the 13 Sonoma County DUI Task Force includes police from 13 Sonoma County cities and towns and is led by Petaluma Police Department.
The CHP’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” holiday enforcement effort begins this Friday, Dec. 21 at 6 p.m. and continues through Tuesday, Dec. 25 at 11:59 p.m. During this "Maximum Enforcement Period" (MEP), all available officers will be out on the roadways for enhanced enforcement efforts and assisting motorists wherever needed, CHP representatives said.
“The winter holidays can pose some of the toughest challenges for our officers,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “Inclement weather, holiday celebrations, and drivers in a hurry to get to their destination can make for a deadly combination."
"We want you to enjoy the season and remember that safety is a crucial element,” he added.
Local law enforcement will be out in full force, cracking down on impaired driving, CHP representatives said.
Last year during the Christmas holiday weekend, 14 people were killed in collisions in California - half of which were not wearing a seat belt.
In addition, the CHP made 980 arrests for driving under the influence during the 78-hour Christmas MEP.
There are three simple ways you can help prevent a tragedy, Farrow said:
- Plan ahead. Designate a sober driver beforehand, or make arrangements for a safe way home. If you drink, do not drive.
- If you are impaired, instead of getting behind the wheel, find another way home. Call a taxi or a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
- If someone you know is drinking, do not let that person drive. If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact law enforcement. You may save someone’s life.
Along with the increased enforcement effort, the CHP is asking motorists to help keep the state’s roadways safe by calling 9-1-1 to report a suspected drunk driver. Callers should be prepared to provide dispatchers with a description of the vehicle, its location, and direction of travel.
The CHP will conduct a similar MEP effort over the New Year’s holiday weekend from Friday, Dec. 28 at 6:01 p.m., to 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013.