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Posted on 12.13.2012 7:15 p.m.

County’s ‘AVOID the 12’ DUI Task Force Plans Holiday Crackdown

Source: Sgt. Kevin Huddle for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department

Heads up to holiday partygoers! To help save lives this holiday season, officers from 12 local law enforcement agencies are launching a special “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” crackdown to stop impaired drivers and to save lives on local roadways.

The Santa Barbara County DUI “AVOID the 12” Task Force is announcing that officers and deputies will be aggressively looking for impaired drivers and will arrest anyone caught driving under the influence.

Enforcement efforts within the county will include: eight DUI/driver’s license checkpoints, 18 DUI saturation patrols, a multiagency DUI task force strike team patrol, a DUI warrant/probations sweep and a court sting.

The California Highway Patrol will deploy all available officers during two Maximum Enforcement Periods – Christmas and New Year’s Weekends. The special enforcement crackdown will run from December 14, 2012, through Jan. 1.

“Lots of folks will be out during this busy holiday season, enjoying themselves and the holiday festivities, and we want everyone to be safe on our roadways.” said Sgt. Kevin Huddle of the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department. “That’s why we will be stepping up enforcement to catch and arrest impaired drivers. Please be forewarned. If you are caught driving impaired, you will be arrested. No warnings. No excuses.”

During 2010, more than 10,000 people were killed nationwide in motor vehicle traffic crashes involving an impaired driver and in Californian 791 people died on the state’s streets and highways. In Santa Barbara County, eight individuals were killed in drunken-driving wrecks in 2011.

The holiday season is a particularly dangerous time. During December 2010, 30 percent of all fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crash involved alcohol-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 0.15 percent BAC or higher.

“No one ever thinks that their holiday celebration will end in jail, or worse, in a hospital or the morgue,” Huddle said. “But for those who include alcohol in their celebrations and then get behind the wheel, this is too often the case.”

Heads up: Violators face jail time, loss of driver license, and steep financial consequences such as higher insurance rates, attorney fees, court costs, lost time at work, and the potential loss of job.

The AVOID he 12 Coalition said there are three simple steps people can take to stay safe and out of trouble:

» 1. Plan ahead. If you will be drinking, do not plan on driving. Designate a sober driver or find another safe way home. Even one too many drinks increases the risk of a crash while driving a motor vehicle.

» 2. If you are impaired, find another way home. Use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, use public transportation.

» 3. Be responsible. If someone you know is drinking, do not let them get behind the wheel. If you see an impaired driver on the road, report them, call 9-1-1. Your actions may save someone’s life and inaction could cost a life.

“We want everyone to enjoy their holidays, but we also want our roadways to be safe,” said Christopher 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 national Driver Sober or Get Pulled Over crackdown is led by the California Office of Traffic Safety and NHTSA, with the California Avoid DUI Task Force Campaign combining high-visibility enforcement and heightened public awareness through publicity. The program is funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety.

— Kevin Huddle is a sergeant for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.




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