Law enforcement across Santa Barbara County are gearing up to crack down on drunken driving this holiday season with extra checkpoints and saturation patrols in cities and unincorporated areas across the county.
Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said that various DUI patrols will be conducted during the weekends between Dec. 13 and Jan. 1.
Patrols will be hosted by the cities of Santa Barbara, Goleta, Buellton, Solvang, Lompoc, Guadalupe and Santa Maria, all of which are sponsored by an AVOID the 12 grant, she said.
A DUI checkpoint is scheduled for Dec. 21 and a task force operation on Dec. 28.
"Goleta, Santa Barbara, Lompoc and Santa Maria also have their own grants where they will provide saturation patrols and/or checkpoints during this time," Hoover said.
Extra enforcement will be held in Santa Barbara on Dec. 13, 14, 20 and 27 and in Lompoc on Dec. 13, 20, 27 and 28, Hoover said.
The California Highway Patrol also will be increasing its patrol units during this time, and Santa Barbara police Sgt. Riley Harwood confirmed that the department has checkpoints scheduled for four nights in December.
The Santa Maria Police Department will be operating special DUI and driver's license checkpoints on Dec. 14, 20 and 28 within the Santa Maria city limits during various timeframes between 6 p.m. and 3 a.m. to help keep roads safe for holiday travelers.
A statement issued Tuesday from the department stated that it is "giving fair warning to all partygoers," and Police Chief Ralph Martin said law enforcement will be making numerous stops during the highly visible enforcement period.
“If we suspect anyone is driving while under the influence, officers will show zero tolerance for drunk or drugged driving," Martin said.
From 2007 to 2011, there were 4,169 people killed during the month of December across the country in crashes that involved drivers with blood alcohol levels of 0.08 or higher, the statement said. In California, during Decembers in that five-year time period, 505 people were killed and thousands seriously injured.
The department stated that drunken drivers often face jail time, the loss of their driver's licenses, higher insurance rates, and dozens of other unanticipated expenses ranging from attorney fees, court costs, car towing and repairs, to lost wages due to time off from work or could even claim someone else's life, or their own.
Police are encouraging the public to plan ahead, and if they will be drinking at holiday parties, to designate a sober driver before the party begins or to call a taxi, sober friend, family member or public transportation to get home.
If someone you know is drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel, the statement said, and the public is encouraged to call 9-1-1 should they see an impaired driver on the road.