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The tragedy of drunk driving

POSTED September 4, 2009 11:27 p.m.
As long as I’ve been a police officer, I’ve never gotten used to the sorrow I feel when I’m called to the scene of a crash where a young person has died due to impaired driving. Yet, this senseless loss of human life is a daily reality all over America — year after year.
Imagine the public outrage if 30 jumbo jets — each carrying about 400 people — crashed every year in America, killing all on board. That’s equivalent of the toll our country suffered last year due to impaired driving. But where’s the indignation over this catastrophe?
The fact is that impaired-driving deaths did decline dramatically during the 1980s through the early 1990s. Social activism, including the rise of organizations such as MADD, led to tighter laws that helped bring the death toll down. During that period, every state made it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 grams per deciliter or above. In addition to that, the legal drinking age was raised from 18 to 21.
But in the decade leading up to 2006, the decline reversed into increases, rising to almost 1,300 killed in California DUI crashes in 2005. Thankfully, and through the hard work of committed Californians, that increase was turned around in 2006. In 2008, DUI crash fatalities dropped to 1,029.
Because we’re committed to ending this tragedy once and for all, our police department will join with others throughout the nation during the coming Labor Day holiday for an intensive crackdown on impaired driving. This nationwide enforcement campaign is aimed at the most likely offenders, 21 to 34 year old males. It runs from now through Sept. 7.
The Avoid the 12 — Stanislaus County DUI Campaign — will be partnering together every police, sheriff and CHP command deploying officers on overtime to staff DUI/Drivers License Checkpoints, Multi-Agency DUI Task Force Strike teams, DUI Warrant/Probations Sweeps, and Court Sting Operations to drive down the numbers in our communities. If you drive drunk, we will be out to catch you, and you will be arrested.
The Turlock Police Department is an active participant in the Crime Stoppers Program. Callers can leave an anonymous tip by calling Crime Stoppers at 521-4636 and may be eligible for a cash reward.   
— Turlock Police Officer Cristina Magana

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