There will be plenty of people wishing one another a "Happy New Year," but the message law enforcement is hoping people pass around is, "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over."
The message is part of a nationwide crackdown on drunk driving. In Stanislaus County, the crackdown is being enforced by the Avoid the 12, a collection of area law enforcement agencies that are using special patrols and checkpoints to catch impaired drivers.
The Winter Holiday Anti-DUI crackdown in Stanislaus County has resulted in 84 arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs from Dec. 16 to Thursday. In 2010, there were 115 arrests during the same time period.
No fatalities from driving under the influence have been reported in Stanislaus County during the winter crackdown.
For the New Year's Weekend and final weekend of the campaign a DUI Checkpoint will be conducted in the city of Patterson, extra local DUI Saturation Patrols will be deployed county-wide and a Multi-Agency DUI Task Force is deploying in the city of Modesto. The CHP will be deploying all available officers for their Maximum Enforcement Period during the New Year's holiday weekend.
The efforts to curb driving under the influence are showing results. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk-driving related deaths declined in 32 states in 2010. California and Florida saw the largest decreases with each declining by more than 100 fatalities in 2010. There were 791 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in California in 2010, compared to 924 in 2009.
Nationally, there were 10,228 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2010, accounting for 31 percent of the overall motor vehicle fatalities.
The national winter holiday enforcement crackdown is supported by a $7 million national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over advertisement campaign that runs from Dec. 16 through Jan. 2. The ads, which first premiered this past summer, feature "invisible" law enforcement officers observing alcohol-impaired individuals and then apprehending them when they attempt to drive their vehicles. The ads are designed to raise awareness and support law enforcement activities in every state. They convey the message that law enforcement officers are vigilant in deterring drunk drivers.
"Thanks to the hard work of law enforcement and safety advocates and the incredible commitment of organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, we are making real progress in reducing drunk driving deaths," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "Our message to drivers is clear: if you decide to drink, find a safe and sober ride home or you will be pulled over."
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.