CHP working to prevent holiday accidents caused by drinking

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With efforts to decrease the number of accidents, injuries and
deaths due to driving under the influence, local law enforcement
agencies throughout the state have designated December as Drunk and
Drugged Driving (3D) Prevention Month.
Fatalities due to alcohol-related crashes are on the rise, both
nationally and statewide, according to a statement issued by the
California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), in conjunction with the
California Highway Patrol. This is the fourth consecutive year
California has experienced an increase in alcohol-related
crashes.
With efforts to decrease the number of accidents, injuries and deaths due to driving under the influence, local law enforcement agencies throughout the state have designated December as Drunk and Drugged Driving (3D) Prevention Month.

Fatalities due to alcohol-related crashes are on the rise, both nationally and statewide, according to a statement issued by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), in conjunction with the California Highway Patrol. This is the fourth consecutive year California has experienced an increase in alcohol-related crashes.

“The Highway Patrol is very concerned about the increase in impaired driving,” said CHP Commissioner D.O. “Spike” Helmick. “We want people to know that it’s a serious call to motorists not to drink and drive. I can assure you a DUI is not a pleasant experience and it can affect the rest of your life.”

While statewide agencies are preparing for a concentration of sobriety checkpoints, the Gilroy/Hollister division of the CHP will not be conducting any DUI checkpoints because of a lack of funds, said CHP Officer Terry Mayes.

However, they will be starting their holiday maximum enforcement period shortly, she said.

“The maximum enforcement period will be from 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 24 to midnight on Sunday, Dec. 28,” Mayes said. “There will be 80 percent or more of available officers out.”

Last year 32,041 people were injured in alcohol-related crashes in the state, with 1,411 deaths, according to the OTS statement.

Along with the increase in alcohol-related crashes comes a rise of DUI arrests of 3.7 percent.

“The CHP isn’t out to put a damper on the spirit of the upcoming Christmas holiday,” said CHP Commander Capt. Bob Davies. “But motorists who drink and drive will find the CHP response to be more like Scrooge than jolly old Saint Nick. If you drink and drive, and we stop you, I can guarantee your holiday won’t be merry or happy.”

The CHP is trying to reduce these numbers by making their presence known on the roadways over the holiday.

“Our commander is very firm on not drinking and driving,” Mayes said. “It only takes one instance, as we have well seen, to lose your life and the lives of others.”

In addition to drunk driving arrests, CHP officers will be writing citations for violations associated with holiday traffic congestion in general: following too closely, improper turning, failing to use turn signals and unsafe lane changes.

“What’s the best thing you can give your loved ones this year? Your presence, not presents,” Davies said. “I urge every motorist to drive sober and exercise caution in all driving situations.”

To make it safely through the holiday season, the CHP offers some common sense safety tips:

– Always have a designated driver on hand whenever alcohol is served.

– Never serve alcohol to minors. California has a zero tolerance policy that will be enforced.

– Talk to young people about the dangers and consequences of impaired driving.

– Provide non-alcoholic beverages at holiday celebrations.

– Think about the evening in advance. Decide on your choice of alternatives before you go.

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