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Law enforcement readies for drunk drivers over New Years celebrations

The anti-drunk driving campaign Avoid the 12 will be out in force over the New Year’s holiday in a concentrated effort to stop intoxicated motorists.

The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department will be conducting a DUI Checkpoint over the holiday, as well as saturation patrols in Modesto, Riverbank, Ceres, Turlock, Oakdale, and Stanislaus County. All regularly scheduled traffic and patrol officers will focus efforts at stopping and arresting DUI drivers during their normal shifts.

From 12:01 a.m. Dec. 18 to midnight Sunday, law enforcement countywide has arrested 33 individuals for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

It is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, there were 867 people killed and an estimated 23,000 injured in DUI crashes in the state in 2013. Across the nation there were a total of 10,076 fatalities from DUIs for that year.

A recent traffic safety study showed that 30 percent of drivers in fatal crashes had one or more drugs in their systems. A study of active drivers showed more tested positive for drugs that may impair driving (14 percent) than did for alcohol (7.3 percent). Of the drugs, marijuana was most prevalent, at 7.4 percent, slightly more than alcohol.

Drunk drivers often face jail time, the loss of their driver licenses, higher insurance rates, and dozens of other unanticipated expenses ranging from attorney fees, court costs, car towed, and collision repair, and lost wages due to time off from work.

Law enforcement emphasizes the preventable nature of drunk driving and reminds everyone that all it takes is a little planning ahead by designating a sober driver or calling a cab. They also encourage everyone to continue using their seat belts, putting away their cell phones, following the rules of the road, and keeping an eye out for dangerous drivers.

The California Office of Traffic Safety Designated Driver VIP mobile app is now available for free download on iOS and Android devices. Launched last year, the new DDVIP app offers enhanced features, allowing users to “Map a Spot” with their current location to find DDVIP partnering establishments in their area or a “List of Spots” to search all participating bars and restaurants throughout California. Users will be offered free incentives at each bar to celebrate their life saving role. They can stay up-to-date with the latest from DDVIP and see what other users are saying via its social tab. Also through the app, for those who want to imbibe but also make it a point to plan ahead, users can easily order a sober ride from Uber, Lyft or Curb – all from one screen.

Law enforcement offers these tips to help keep people safe:

•Plan a safe way to get home before you attend the party. Alcohol impairs judgment, as well as reaction time. If you’re drunk you’re more like to choose to drive drunk.
•Designate a sober driver; take public transportation, a car service, or a call a sober friend of family member to get home.
•Walking while impaired can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Designate a sober friend to walk you home.
•Report Drunk Drivers – Call 911.
•If you see someone you think is about to drive while impaired, take their keys and help them get home safely.

Funding for the Avoid the 12 program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.