For those you enjoy the holidays with a drink, the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department has a message: "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over."
Due to the increase in drunk-driving-related fatalities around the holidays, law enforcement agencies in Stanislaus County will be actively searching for and arresting drunk drivers from Dec. 18 to Jan. 3.
As part of the national "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" enforcement campaign period, local police, sheriff and the CHP will be deploying DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols during the upcoming 17-day enforcement campaign. Law enforcement in Stanislaus County is conducting one DUI/driver's license checkpoint and 25 DUI saturation patrols.
In 2013, 10,076 people were killed in U.S. crashes involving a drunk driver. In December of that year alone 733 people were killed in crashes involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. Twenty-three of those deaths occurred on Christmas Day.
California witnessed 98 deaths and another 1,852 injured in alcohol-involved collisions in December 2013.
"It's time for all drivers to get the message," said Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson. "Drunk driving is a choice you make, and when you make that choice, people get hurt or die. That's why we're joining with law enforcement nationwide to share the message: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over."
He recommends anyone to drive sober or catch a ride with a sober designated driver.
Recent statistics reveal 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.
Christianson said everyone should be mindful that medication - whether prescription or over-the-counter - can greatly intensify the impairment effects of alcohol.
Stanislaus County DUI Coalition reminders everyone to follow these simple tips to stay safe:
• Plan a safe way to get home before you attend the party. Alcohol impairs judgment, as well as reaction time. If you're impaired you're more likely 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.
• If you see someone you think is about to drive while impaired, take their keys and help them get home safely.
• If you see someone you think is driving drunk, call 911.
If you're caught drinking and driving you could face jail time, fines, loss of driver's license, towing fees, and other DUI expenses, totaling $10,000 on average. That's not a small price, and that doesn't even count the heftier price you could pay: the price of your life or someone else's.
"We've got to work together to make our roads safer this December and year-round."