Police to crack down on holiday drunken driving

Police briefs

Holiday revelers who plan to imbibe alcoholic beverages should make plans that don’t include driving, because police will be cracking down on impaired driving. 

The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office and law enforcement agencies throughout the county will flood the streets with officers from now until the beginning of 2013, according to a press release from sheriff’s Sgt. Jose Cardoza. 

The “Avoid the 13” campaign is law enforcement’s annual effort to crack down on drunken driving during the holidays when heavy traffic is expected on the roads. 

“Officers and deputies will be aggressively looking for impaired drivers and will arrest anyone caught driving under the influence,” Cardoza said. 

During 2010, more than 10,000 people were killed nationwide in motor vehicle traffic crashes involving an impaired driver and in California 791 people died on the state’s streets and highways, authorities said.

In Santa Clara County, about 6,400 people were arrested on suspicion of DUI in 2010, and 24 people died due to collisions in which a motorist was driving under the influence, according to police. 

The holiday season is a particularly dangerous time, according to police. 

During December 2010, 30 percent of all fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crash involved impaired drivers. Data also shows that among those alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities, 71 percent occurred when drivers had nearly twice the legal limit blood alcohol concentration of .15 percent blood-alcohol content or higher.   

Friday night, Gilroy and San Jose police will conduct “saturation patrols” on the streets, targeting motorists who appear to be driving in an impaired state.

Plus, on Saturday sheriff’s deputies will conduct a DUI warrant sweep, in which they will target “the worst of the worst” DUI offenders who have either failed to show up for a court date, or violated the terms of their probation in a DUI conviction, Cardoza said. 

Deputies will serve warrants for these offenders at their residences and places of work throughout the day Saturday, Cardoza said. 

Furthermore, a DUI and driver’s license checkpoint is scheduled at an undisclosed location in Gilroy for Friday, Dec. 21 as part of the crackdown campaign, police said. More saturation patrols are scheduled in Gilroy for Dec. 22, Dec. 28 and Dec. 31. 

Sober motorists are also asked to report any vehicles they suspect of being driven by an impaired driver by calling 911, Cardoza said. 

Also, police encourage any partiers who plan to drink alcohol to plan on avoiding getting behind the steering wheel, police said. If you drink too much and need to get home, you can call a taxi, a sober friend or family member, and don’t let intoxicated friends get behind the wheel, Cardoza said. 

“We want everyone to enjoy their holidays, but we also want our roadways to be safe,” said Christopher J. Murphy, Director of the California Office of Traffic Safety. “Police, Sheriffs and the CHP will be out in force to help save lives, and they are not going to tolerate impaired driving. So remember, ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.’ They will be watching.”

The annual Avoid the 13 campaign is funded through a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety.