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Help crackdown on DUIs
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The Fourth of July holiday period is one of several statewide "DUI saturation enforcement" periods conducted by law enforcement each year. Independence Day merits enhanced enforcement efforts owing to the propensity for increased incidents of drunk, drugged, or otherwise impaired driving. This year, July 4 fell on a Saturday, which meant that it was likely there would be more parties and consumption of alcohol and other intoxicating substances, as compared to when this holiday falls on a weekday. These various intoxicating substances are not limited only to alcohol or illegal drugs. They also include doctor-prescribed medications, over-the-counter cold and flu remedies, and other similar substances that induce drowsiness or impair brain function.

During the period of July 3 from 6 p.m. through midnight on July 5, 48 drunk driving arrests were made in Stanislaus County. Fortunately, there were no DUI-related fatalities in Stanislaus County during the saturation enforcement period. Statewide, there were 1,239 DUI arrests, and 24 people killed as a result of DUI-related collisions; seven of these fatalities featured the failure to use seatbelts. Ceres Police made seven DUI arrests during this period.

You may also be interested to know that during the saturation period, which covers a total of 54 hours, Ceres police and fire personnel handled nearly 390 events. Ceres police dispatchers handled more than 600 phone calls. Keep in mind, there are usually only two dispatchers on duty at a time, so all 600 phone calls, coupled with the hundreds of radio transmissions represent a huge workload for dispatch personnel.

Saturation patrol for DUI prevention is an enforcement initiative adopted by law enforcement agencies throughout the United States as a measure to combat the drunken driving problem. In California, most agencies employing the saturation patrol program obtain funding through grants from the State Office of Traffic Safety to pay for the additional police officers during special enforcement periods. A great amount of law enforcement effort is expended on DUI enforcement because intoxicated motorists are responsible for thousands of deaths each year. According to at least one study, the average American has a 30 percent chance of being killed or injured by an impaired driver. The number of drunk drivers arrested represents only the "tip of the iceberg" in terms of the actual number of impaired drivers on our roadways. One National Highway Safety Administration study asserts that for every DUI driver arrested, 500 to 2,000 others go undetected.

A DUI saturation patrol effort not only nets many arrests of intoxicated motorists, it also serves as a source of public information, education and a warning to careless individuals who are willing to take the risk of operating a motor vehicle while impaired. In terms of the overall effort to reduce the problem, DUI saturation patrols serve an important role with real results that directly benefit the public.

Citizens are encouraged to assist with curtailing the DUI problem by promptly reporting suspected impaired motorists to the police. Use 9-1-1 to report your observations and try to provide as much information as possible to the dispatcher. The vehicle description, license plate number, location, direction of travel, nearest cross streets or highway exit, driver description and any other information will be very helpful as the police look for the suspected violator.

Law enforcement officers consistently maintain a high level of vigilance for impaired motorists, and most agencies have a "zero tolerance" standard for enforcement. In other words, motorists stopped and found to be impaired will definitely go to jail - no excuses, no breaks. Motorists can expect to see increased patrols during the "Labor Day Enforcement Period," which occurs during a two to three week period around the Labor Day holiday. In the meantime, rigorous day-to-day enforcement will continue to be the rule. Please do not get behind the wheel if you have been drinking, using drugs, are sleepy or otherwise impaired. More important than avoiding arrest, taking this advice can save lives, including your own.