Police report final holiday DUI numbers

Avoid the 13

Police departments and law enforcement agencies in Santa Clara County reported a final tally of 482 arrests on suspicion of drunken driving during the winter holiday crackdown.

That’s fewer than the 557 DUI arrests reported during the same period last year, according to Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jose Cardoza.

The arrests were reported from Dec. 16, 2011 to Jan. 1, 2012, and were part of the “Avoid the 13” enhanced enforcement campaign. All city police departments, the sheriff’s office and California Highway Patrol participated in the annual campaign, which consists of DUI checkpoints and “saturation patrols” to put extra officers on the streets on the nights such as New Years Eve that typically bring out more motorists – and more potentially impaired motorists – than usual.

The agencies are able to assign more officers on such high-traffic nights with grant funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Cardoza said.

Morgan Hill police conducted two DUI checkpoints during the 17-day winter holiday campaign, but those did not net any DUI arrests, according to MHPD Sgt. Troy Hoefling. However, on other nights of the campaign Morgan Hill officers arrested 30 motorists on suspicion of DUI from Dec. 16 to Jan. 1.

Last year, MHPD officers contributed 38 arrests of DUI suspects in the city limits during the winter holidays, police said.

No DUI-related traffic fatalities were reported anywhere in Santa Clara County during the 2011 holiday campaign, Cardoza said.

The drop in arrests from last year is likely due to the increasing presence of police on the roads during the holidays, Cardoza suggested.

“DUI checkpoints, along with regularly scheduled high visibility DUI enforcement, are proven strategies with the goal of removing impaired drivers from the road and heightening awareness of the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol,” Cardoza said.

The next heightened “Avoid the 13” enforcement night will be Super Bowl weekend in February, police said.