Local law enforcement agencies are making a statement: If you drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you will be caught and convicted. And once convicted, you will be held accountable for the terms of your court-ordered probation.
Teams of law enforcement personnel have been out in force the past two weeks as part of the Avoid the 12 DUI campaign. From 12:01 a.m. Dec. 17 through 12 midnight on Sunday, officers representing 12 county law enforcement agencies have arrested 100 individuals for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. During the same time period in 2009, 85 arrests were made.
Patrolling the streets looking for drunk drivers is not the only way law enforcement is trying to prevent fatal DUI crashes this holiday season. On Monday, the Avoid the 12 campaign — which is headed by the Turlock Police Department and funded by a grant from the Office of Traffic Safety —conducted the county’s first ever ignition interlock device compliance check.
An ignition interlock device (IID) is a device slightly larger than a cell phone that is wired to a vehicle's ignition that requires a breath sample before the engine will start. If the IID detects alcohol on the driver’s breath, the engine will not start. While the car is in motion, the device will also periodically require the driver to provide breath samples.
In Stanislaus County, a person who was arrested for DUI and registered over double the legal limit of blood alcohol levels or is a habitual DUI offender could be ordered by the court to install an IID on their vehicle.
“Ignition interlock devices serve to keep those previously convicted of DUI from reoffending and to protect the community, and previous DUI offender, from injury or death,” said Turlock Police Chief Gary Hampton at a press conference Monday morning.
On Monday, seven teams of law enforcement personnel from around the county attempted to contact 116 residents who were ordered to install IIDs on their vehicles, but had not done so. Out of the 116, officers contacted 29 alleged violators. Of those contacted, 16 were arrested and released on citation, six cases were forwarded to the District Attorney’s office for a complaint and six were found to be in compliance. One violator physically resisted officers and was booked into jail for the IID violation and resisting a peace officer.
“The timing of this compliance and enforcement operation specifically focuses on preventing injury and death during a time when DUI violations are elevated and DUI offenders, who are already noncompliant with conditions of their previous convictions, are at great risk of using poor judgment and reoffending,” Hampton said.
Assistant District Attorney Carol Shipley said the compliance checks were an effective proactive tool for law enforcement.
“It’s a great asset to stop drunk drivers getting on the road,” she said. “It’s always cheaper to do prevention than to take care of the problem afterwards.”
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.