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Saturday, May 26, 2012

CA:Law enforcement authorities warn of DUI crackdown on Memorial Day weekend

Law enforcement authorities warn of DUI crackdown on Memorial Day weekend

By Stephen Baxter and Gary Posted: 05/23/2012 03:49:27 PM PDT May 24, 2012 1:41 AM GMTUpdated: 05/23/2012 06:41:51 PM PDT
California Highway Patrol officer Sam Courtney splits lanes on... (Shmuel Thaler/Sentinel)«1»CAPITOLA - Memorial Day weekend is one of the most dangerous times of the year to be driving a car or riding a motorcycle or bike, according to safety officials.
Three days off work, sunny weather, end-of-year school parties, jammed roads and too much drinking can be a deadly combination. Law enforcement agencies plan to crack down on drunken drivers throughout the area.
"I don't think the average citizen realizes how many impaired drivers they share the road with," said California Highway Patrol officer Sarah Jackson.
"We urge anyone who sees a dangerous or possibly impaired driver to dial 911. This is an official exemption to the hands-free cell phone law and greatly aids us in removing impaired drivers from the
Live Highway 1 camera road."
CHP officers in Santa Cruz County said they already arrested 20 suspected DUI drivers this past Saturday and Sunday - which was more DUI arrests than during the previous weekends in May.
Law enforcement agencies plan to have "saturation patrols" on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights in Capitola, Santa Cruz, Watsonville and Scotts Valley, said Capitola police Sgt. Matt Eller.
Capitola police also will have a DUI checkpoint Friday night. Eller declined to release its location.
Eller advised Memorial Day revelers to choose a designated, sober driver before attending parties. Police said drivers should call 911 if they spot impaired drivers weaving or crossing center lines of the road.
In the South Bay, three motorists were killed in crashes in the past two weeks who were not wearing seat belts.
"Unfortunately, we have seen an increase of motorcycle collisions and lately deaths, especially since the weather has been improving," said Bay Area CHP officer Art Montiel.
The CHP plans to saturate Highways 9, 17, 35, 84 and 92 this weekend.
In Monterey County, "Avoid the 18" patrols and checkpoints will be in effect by the county's 18 law enforcement agencies, said Salinas police Sgt. Dana Cornelison, campaign coordinator. The efforts include a Friday night sobriety checkpoint and DUI patrols by police in Salinas, as well as maximum enforcement by the Monterey and King City offices of the CHP.
The Monterey office of the Highway Patrol will conduct a sobriety checkpoint from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday somewhere in the unincorporated area of the county.
Cornelison said 48 drivers in Monterey County went to jail during Memorial Day weekend last year.
The AAA predicts that 4.2 million Californians will travel 50 miles or more this holiday, a slight increase of 1.5 percent from last year.
"But many consumers intend to cut back on the distance they travel, as well as on entertainment expenses, to compensate for reduced travel budgets," AAA Northern California spokeswoman Cynthia Harris said. "Others will be opting for backyard barbecues, a staple of this three-day holiday weekend."
Traffic officials recommend that drivers avoid being on the road after 3 p.m. Friday, and try to return home before 5 p.m. Monday to dodge the most congested times.
No problem for Frances Pauline of Oakland, who will enjoy Monday with neighbors at a cookout.
"Too many crazies on the road and too much traffic. A good burger or steak and some nice wine for all and we'll be set," she said.
"The summer months typically see a rise in DUI deaths and injuries," said Chris Murphy, director of the California Office of Traffic Safety. "Let's turn this trend around in 2012. Take measures to use a designated sober driver and call 911 to report a suspected drunk driver."