The holiday season is upon us. Plans are in place for parties, shopping and traveling to friends and family. However, each year motorists will be in harm’s way because of the careless ones who will drink and drive.

The Santa Barbara and Goleta police departments will join law enforcement across the state as part of California’s 18-Day Holiday DUI Crackdown Campaign with law enforcement agencies deploying 300 DUI/driver’s license checkpoints statewide.

Funding for the special enforcement campaign, on now through Jan. 3, comes from a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Santa Barbara police will conduct a checkpoint from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday. In Goleta, a checkpoint will be conducted the night of Jan. 2. An additional checkpoint in Goleta was held Dec. 18.

“In this day and age there simply is no excuse to drink and drive,” Goleta Police Chief Phil Willis said “From the designated driver to the comparatively inexpensive price of a taxi, there should be no one driving under the influence.”

In 2008, 11,773 people died in highway crashes involving a driver or motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. In California, 1,029 were killed on state and local roads driving with a .08 BAC or higher with another 28,457 injured in alcohol-involved collisions.

Law enforcement encourages everyone planning a family gathering over the holidays to first think about how friends and family will get home after drinking during holiday celebrations. Everyone is encouraged to “Report Drunk Drivers — Call 911” and be ready to describe the vehicle, its location and direction of travel.

With everyone’s help, families won’t remember the holidays of 2009 as a time of loss at the hands of another drunken driver.

— Drew Sugars is a public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.