Pleasanton Weekly

News - December 31, 2010

Crackdown leads to 17 DUI arrests

Two-week push for drunken drivers paid for by grant

A grant for a two-week push to arrest drunken drivers paid off for Pleasanton police.

Seventeen people were charged with driving under the influence, with additional arrests on drug charges in connection with the stops.

Sgt. Bob Leung said the "Avoid the 21" campaign began Dec. 17 and will run until Jan 2.

"We have some extra saturation patrols. We have a DUI checkpoint scheduled for the 30th," Leung said. "I have one dedicated DUI patrol on the 31st."

Leung said that checkpoint is to raise awareness as much as it is to catch impaired drivers.

"We can effectively stop and talk to a large number of people as opposed to stopping them for a traffic violation," he said.

The grant is administered by the city of Livermore and brings four special patrols specifically looking for people driving drunk.

"The guys are out there looking for any reason to stop because we're looking for these impaired drivers," Leung said. That means potential stops for everything from broken taillights to erratic driving.

He said the real reason behind the campaign is to promote safety over the holidays, when DUI deaths traditionally spike.

"It's not just the driving -- it's when the intoxicated driver gets into an accident and causes injury to somebody, or kills somebody, that's the worst part," he said.

Leung said people who are over the legal limit of .08 have a number of alternatives, including getting a designated driver, calling a taxi, getting a hotel room and calling AAA, which is offering a free tow for up to 10 miles for members and nonmembers alike who have had too much to drink.

State police will join local officers starting this afternoon in a statewide crackdown aimed at keeping drunken drivers off the road over the New Year's holiday weekend.

Police said the maximum enforcement period starts later today with up to 80 percent of all available uniformed officers out on patrol.

Arrests for driving under the influence and traffic deaths over the Christmas holiday weekend were down compared to last year, according to numbers released by the California Highway Patrol.

In the period spanning from 6 p.m. Dec. 24 through midnight on Dec. 26, Bay Area CHP officers made 115 DUI arrests, down from 195 for the same period last year.

Across the state, CHP officers nabbed 658 drivers for drunken driving, which is also a drop from the 1,104 arrests for the same period in 2009.

Traffic deaths statewide were just a fraction of what they were last year, with just a single fatality this year versus 15 from last year

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