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Holiday Crackdown On Dangerous Drivers

CHP and local police are ganging up this weekend on impaired drivers.

Labor Day weekend, as the unofficial end of summer, is about more than just maximizing one's sunshine intake at barbecues. For the California Highway Patrol and local law enforcement, it's about maximizing enforcement and cracking down on impaired driving.

Since August 19, several agencies have been conducting ongoing campaigns meant to curb drunken driving, including Sonoma County's Summer Mobilization Period and Marin County's "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" operation, each run by their respective Avoid the 13 DUI task forces.

The CHP has dubbed its period of increased vigilance as its Maximum Enforcement Program.
Statewide, CHP officers have arrested 468 drivers suspected of driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or both, according to provisional numbers released today.

The arrests represent an increase from last year's total of 436 DUI arrests from the first night of the long holiday weekend. Those statistics reflect arrests made between 6 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m. today.

In Marin County, law enforcement agents made one DUI arrest stemming from 1,786 vehicle screenings at a San Rafael checkpoint Friday night. Thirteen field sobriety tests were administered at the Avoid the 13 DUI and driver's license checkpoint at the intersection of Grand Avenue and East Francisco Boulevard.

One person was arrested on an outstanding warrant, three drivers with suspended licenses were arrested, and 15 unlicensed drivers were cited and released, according to San Rafael police spokeswoman Margo Rohrbacher. Three mechanical citations and 30 moving safety violations were also issued between 6 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. at the checkpoint, she said.

"Our message is simple and unwavering: if we find you driving impaired, we will arrest you. No exceptions," San Rafael Police Chief Jeff Franzini said in a statement today.

"Even if you beat the odds and manage to walk away from an impaired-driving crash alive, the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest for driving while impaired can still destroy your life," Franzini said.

In Sonoma County, two people were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence during a Friday night checkpoint in Santa Rosa that netted 11 other arrests for driver's license or substance-related violations.

"Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" is a national campaign led by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The enforcement period runs through Labor Day.

— Bay City News

Thomas September 06, 2011 at 09:27 PM
Your idea of DMV fees and taxes being cheaper (good luck with that with a big D California) would have the net result of more insured is unfounded. People driving without licenses simply often don't have insurance obviously (in the context of a checkpoint conversation). Unregistered vehicles get popped pretty easily since it is obvious unless they stole the sticker. Impounding does a lot to solve problems, which is why there is vast resistance from certain special lobby groups - because it hits the sweet spot. You can be impounded for a parking violation, and people are complaining about unlicensed driven vehicles on the road? You think it is only something to worry about for "adequate recompense" for life killed or property damaged? Please... BTW checkpoints are mostly funded by special external grants to communities.
Derek Wilson September 06, 2011 at 11:55 PM
I'd love to see a crackdown now on people who phone and text while driving.
John Ferguson September 07, 2011 at 12:27 AM
Agreed, but logistically challenging. The low hanging fruit for law enforcement is and will continue to be exceeding posted speed limits, licence and registration violations and DUI. These are persistent or easily verifiable and court admissable issues that cause the least amount of disruption to the officer's schedule. What we really need (but may never get) is attention or reaction evaluation within the vehicle and an automated way of processing that information that leads to risk reduction. What I'm talking about is a way to track what the driver is looking at and if attention strays from the road for longer than a second or two, automatic slow deceleration would start. I can identify drivers who are engaged in non-driving activities that take away their attention by how fast they're going relative to traffic. Usually they're significantly slower and don't hold the lane well. The same behavior exhibits in intoxicated drivers. Officers could cite drivers for all kinds of things, but they would be far more likely to be challenged in court and they know it.
John Parnell September 07, 2011 at 11:41 PM
I totally agree Derek. Making it illegal doesn't seem to have changed most people's habits about this. I think they should make it a moving violation. If they know that people who phone or text while driving is as dangerous as drinking & driving, shouldn't it at the very least be more than just a fine, and have an affect on your record? Also, if the law saws you must use a hands-free device, shouldn't the automakers be required to have Bluetooth in every vehicle sold in California & not keep that as just an option? California has led in automotive safety & they should do so with Bluetooth requirements. Seat belts & catalytic converters come to mind (remember when they made cars just for California, before adding catalytic converters to all the cars nationwide). What if seat belts were still optional for the automakers like 40 years ago, yet we had a seat belt law? It wouldn't make logical sense, so why shouldn't that logic apply to Bluetooth?
Dave Kaye September 08, 2011 at 12:39 AM
Interesting comments, all of you. I was thinking about this the other day when a friend told me a story of the time he got pulled over but was let go because he "only" registered .078. What the heck's the use of the law then? Texting while driving is appalling. Especially since there are plenty of solutions available. I absolutely agree with you John that the penalties should be every bit as severe as a DUI. Put a police officer on the corner of Fifer and Tamal Vista and I bet just standing on the curb he'd get ten people in an hour. Every time I'm behind someone weaving, driving too slow or too fast, or not going when the light turns green sure enough they're not drunk -- they're texting or talking on the phone.

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