Huge Surge in DUI Arrests ... Why Do You Think That Is?

There were 18 suspected DUIs by Novato police in the first nine days of the month.

There's something in the water, and apparently it's alcohol.

Novato is having a stunning spike in arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It might even be an unprecedented surge.

In the first nine days of September, there were 18 arrests for DUI by the . The average monthly total over the past year was 15.6, and the high month was 26 in July of this year.

At a rate of two arrests per day through the first nine days, September could hit 60 if the pace is maintained.

"It's contrary to what would seem natural," said Chief of Police Jim Berg. "I would like to think our officers are getting more attuned to the signs of impaired driving. We've spent a lot of money getting our officers trained in advanced DUI investigation skills, and we're seeing the rewards of that investment."

Novato police at a Friday night/Saturday morning sobriety checkpoint on South Novato Boulevard, a high number compared to past checkpoints. In fact, many checkpoints result in no DUI arrests. The argument has been made in the past that making no arrests doesn't mean the checkpoint wasn't successful.

Even when there is a relatively high number arrested at a checkpoint or on normal patrols, there's no way of knowing how many drivers are exceeding the .08 percent blood-alcohol level that marks the legal limit.

"Those (arrests) are just the ones we're coming across," Sgt. Jennifer Dunlap said. "Those are just the ones we're catching, so you can imagine how many we're not getting. I don't know why there's such an uptick."

Sgt. Jennifer Welch said the Novato Police Department "aggressively enforces all laws surrounding driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. With summer ending and a spike in DUIs, patrol officers remain vigilant in their efforts to combat drunk driving."  

In addition to Novato PD arrests, the Marin office of the California Highway Patrol recorded four arrests of Novato residents as suspected DUI drivers through Sept. 10, Officer Eric Hohmeister said.

Could September end up as a record month for DUI arrests in Novato? There would have to be a dramatic downturn to avoid it.

"I'm hoping it's just a temporary spike we're seeing," Berg said, "but rest assured that with the commitment to traffic investigation and specifically to DUI investigation, it will be our priority. It is a direct threat to each and every one of our citizens, whether it's a pedestrian, a bicyclist or a motorist, to have impaired drivers behind the wheel."

Will Lamers September 12, 2012 at 04:37 PM
So the reason that there are more DUI arrests is that NPD has nothing better to do? You don't think that perhaps there might be more drunks on the road? You don't think that perhaps they are being more vigilant?
Susan Wreden September 12, 2012 at 04:39 PM
It's obvious that you really don't know anything about Novato, too bad for you. Yes, there is an ART and Wine festival - I take my kids every year and get tie-dye shirts, ice cream, play games, and do a little early Christmas shopping, the wine is a choice. Also, get your facts straight, it's not a winery, it's a tasting room. I really don't think tasting wine to find a nice bottle to serve with dinner is celebrating alcoholism. Curious about your aversion to any alcohol...issues?
Will Lamers September 12, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Hi Susan - Actually, the Trek facility in Novato is actually a winery that also has a tasting room. A winery is a place where wine is produced, and Andy has the back all set up for producing wine. As opposed to other wine companies who have separate facilities, Trek is making wine in the back and tasting/selling it in the front.
mike jones September 12, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Come on people npd is known for traffic stops I have lived in novato for 40 years and have seen it and lived it. You if are driving in novato late at night and not drinking they will follow you and a lot or times pull you over and say oh you went over the double line or some lame reason why they pulled you over just to check you out that's not vigilant
mike jones September 12, 2012 at 05:20 PM
I didn't think you liberals on marin like cops don't you people support scumbags? I'm all for cops getting drunks off the road but don't follow me at night and then pull me over with some made up story why you pulled me over just to check me out i dont roll like that.btw I'm white.
Will Lamers September 12, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Sounds like you have a few issues that need to be worked out. I was not aware that Novato pulls people over for "Driving while White". Other than a stint in the military I have lived in Marin since '64, and have yet to have a cop follow me and pull me over. Rather than call me names, how about filing a complaint with the police. I am sure that they have dash cameras, and perhaps they can show you why you attract their attention.
mike jones September 12, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Will you don't know what you are talking about here is an example I work the graveyard shift and give a co work a ride to work and home so one night after work was driving home was on grant cop was sitting in the bank parking lot after I passed him he pulled out got behind me and I said to my co worker that cop just got behind me watch he will follow us and pull me over with same reason bingo he did said oh I pulled you over because tour tail lights atnt bright enuf....PLEASE WILL
mike jones September 12, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Will if you wanna do a drive along with me tonight ill pick you up at 4am I have $100 bucks saying we will be followed or/and pulled over. We will drive around novato for 20 minutes if you win I hand you $100 if I win you give me $200 deal my man????????????????
Kevin September 12, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Wow. how did you pass your driving test?
Jerry September 12, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Three honks for NPD. Last year 791 people died in Calif. DUI-related auto accidents. That's almost two 747 plane-loads of people. This has to stop.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr September 12, 2012 at 05:53 PM
The increase in DUI arrests is due to more focused enforcement by NPD and the new police chief. The drunks have always been out there. NPD is just doing a better job catching them. Now if we could convince the Sacramento drunks in offce and the courts that drunk driving deserves threat-of-life emphasis, things might get better and safer.
Will Lamers September 12, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Let me see if I get this straight. You have been pulled over multiple times by multiple cops, and they all say the same thing, that your taillights are not bright enough? Ask them which statute in the vehicle code they are using the reason to pull you over. 24600 is the one dealing with taillamps, unless you have modified them, in which case it is 26104. Have you thought about having your taillights checked, and then seeing if they still pull you over? My guess is that once you correct whatever is making you a target, they will stop pulling you over...
mike jones September 12, 2012 at 05:58 PM
I think you teacher said dude you are out of control here take your licence just get out of here. Keven bet my driving record is better then yours $100 say it is so put up or take a hike my man.
Will Lamers September 12, 2012 at 06:00 PM
@ Jerome - Well said.
Ventress Dugan September 12, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Thank you Novato Police Dept. Whatever the reason for getting more DUI's off of the road...keep up the good work!
Will Lamers September 12, 2012 at 06:47 PM
@ Mike - Before we do that, find out from the cops which statute in the CVC applies to your tail lamps and what needs to be done to fix them, and then get that problem fixed. Then we can talk... I need to make sure that the deck is stacked in my favor, 'cause I could use the $200... Cheers!
Will Lamers September 12, 2012 at 07:04 PM
mike jones September 12, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Yeah now just report mexicans who shouldn't be here to ICE marin/san francisco is so fu**** up
Will Lamers September 12, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Because getting rid of mexicans is more important that catching drunks?
mike jones September 12, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Jerry 1 million people in california could die of dui accidents it will never stop california and marin big time is just too liberal. they give 50 chances to people with dui fine them all you want wont help they are right back on the road. You have to throw them on jail for a year no questions asked three days in jail after your second dui does nothing. Wake up california
Jerry September 12, 2012 at 08:21 PM
@mike. Its true California and most other states are light in DUI punishment. There is a recent study out there somewhere that says 25% of all U.S. DUI deaths involve a DUI convicted driver who has had three or more DUIs. We need to ramp up the consequents for DUI convictions. But first we have to catch'em. DUI is a deadly crime. Effective crime prevention has two parts - apprehension and punishment. California and the whole U.S. needs to do both very effectively -- No more 747 loads of death. NPD is doing the first part.
mike jones September 12, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Yes what npd does along with everyother pd across america is awesome they do a great job then the courts fail them by letting losers off the hook.
Will Lamers September 12, 2012 at 09:44 PM
@ Mike - I will agree with you on that. In Sweden the legal limit is 0.02, and the penalties are much more severe.
Fed Up September 13, 2012 at 02:43 AM
you are absolutely correct, These people trying to protect there over the top numbers for this small community. The entitlements get trimmed if they can't drum up some new numbers of arrests. This is another pathetic example of two much govt. How many of these suspected drunk driver cases will stick. Remember these cops were out doing random stops because they did not catch any one in there DUI check points. This another case of Govt. gone bad. wasting our tax dollars to substantiate moe cops and bigger pensions!
Just My Opinion September 13, 2012 at 09:16 PM
I find it interesting that so many on here are seemingly against increased patrol for DUI drivers. We lost a beautiful little girl not that long ago not to mention too many young teen drivers to count. I would think that you would be thanking the officers out there doing their jobs, at a risk to their own safety. Making "traffic stops" is what kills many officers (like the CHP officer they laid to rest just today). I for one say thank you and keep up the good work.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr September 13, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr September 13, 2012 at 11:31 PM
I had heard that all of the Scandinavian countries had 0.03 or 0.04 limit, and that a first DUI conviction resulted in lifetime revocation of driving privilege. That seems appropriate in that so many DUIs take away someone's lifetime. I have NOT checked a source on that recently. I may Google and follow up.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr September 13, 2012 at 11:35 PM
@Will, how about doing both. Illegal alien DUIs are only charged with a misdemeanor and are not deported until they injure or kill someone, just like all other drunks.
NovatoGuy September 20, 2012 at 04:00 AM
If we leave it to the schmucks in sacramento, nothing will change.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr September 20, 2012 at 06:34 PM
@NovatoGuy, we need to change the schmucks in Sacramento for real representatives.


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