Local law enforcement officials issued a strong warning Thursday to “drive sober or get pulled over,” as they told the media they’ll be cracking down on drunken drivers over the next couple of weeks.
Starting Friday, law enforcement will launch the first of 33 DUI enforcement operations on Santa Barbara County roads, according to Undersheriff Jim Peterson.
“Avoid the 12” is Santa Barbara County’s DUI task force, composed of 12 local law enforcement agencies throughout the county that have joined together to combat drunken driving in the seven cities and the unincorporated areas of the county. The 2½-week effort will end Sept. 3.
On Thursday, a slew of officers representing the police departments from Guadalupe, Santa Barbara and Santa Maria appeared at the news conference, as well as officials from the California Highway Patrol. Santa Barbara County Fire Department officials were also present.
Peterson had a stern message for those tempted to drink and drive: “Be warned,” he said. “You will not be able to Avoid the 12.”
During last year’s crackdown, 200 people were arrested for DUI in the county.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Kevin Huddle said people should call 9-1-1 if they suspect a driver is driving under the influence.
He said drivers who weave, tailgate, drive too slow or too fast for the conditions, and leave turn signals on indefinitely are some signs police look for to identify an inebriated driver, and civilians should be aware of them, too.
Drivers may use their cell phones to report that activity while driving, because it’s the one exception to California’s hands-free law, Huddle said.
California Office of Traffic Safety director Chris Murphy also spoke Thursday, and presented awards to Peterson and sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Farmer for their efforts to stem driving under the influence.
Goleta Mayor Ed Easton was also on hand to thank the officers for their work.