The primary cause of deaths on local streets and highways remains drunken driving, according to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office and the “Avoid the 13” DUI Task Force will keep up with its DUI enforcement in the county as a result of a recent $101,500 grant awarded by the California Office of Traffic Safety. The Sheriff’s office will administer the grant for the entire county on behalf of the Santa Clara County Police Chiefs’ Association.
“The ‘Avoid the 13’ DUI Campaign is named to send the message that if you don’t drink and drive, you will avoid getting arrested by any of the 13 participating law enforcement agencies in the county,” said Gilroy police chief Denise Turner, president of the Santa Clara County Police Chiefs’ Association.
The grant activities will specifically target those who drink too much and get behind the wheel. Officers will be staffing DUI/driver license checkpoints, multi-agency DUI Task Force deployments and local DUI saturation patrols for each partnering. Additionally, funding will target the ‘worst of the worst’ repeat DUI offenders with warrant/probation sweeps and court sting enforcement operations focusing on DUI offenders who leave court hearings and drive away on suspended licenses after being ordered not to drive by a judge.
“The Avoid DUI Task Forces have been an essential part of the phenomenal reduction in DUI deaths on our roadways in the last five years in California,” said Christopher J. Murphy, director of the Office of Traffic Safety. “Tragically, DUI deaths remain the largest sector, at over 30 percent of traffic fatalities. This grant will help combat that, making Santa Clara County a safer place to live and work.”
Checkpoints are a key component of the grant. These highly visible, highly publicized events are meant to deter impaired driving, not to increase arrests. Research shows that crashes involving alcohol drop by an average of 20 percent when well-publicized checkpoints are conducted often enough. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, checkpoints have provided the most effective documented results of any of the DUI enforcement strategies, while yielding considerable cost savings of $6 for every $1 spent.
Motorist can expect to see special DUI campaigns during the winter and summer holiday periods as well as on Halloween, Super Bowl Sunday, St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo and during local special events with identified DUI problems. Funding for the grant comes from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Agencies participating in the ‘Avoid the 13’ taskforce include: Campbell Police Department, Gilroy Police Department, Los Altos Police Department, Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department, Milpitas Police Department, Morgan Hill Police Department, Mountain View Police Department, Palo Alto Police Department, San Jose Police Department, San Jose State University Police Department, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, Santa Clara Police Department, and the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety.