RIVERSIDE – Beginning tomorrow, law enforcement agencies throughout Riverside County will be ramping up patrols and setting up checkpoints for a two-week campaign to deter drunken- and drug-impaired driving during the holidays.
The Avoid the 30 task force — named for the number of participating agencies — will be conducting anti-DUI operations from 6 p.m. Friday to midnight on New Year’s Day.
“Lots of folks will be out during this busy holiday season, enjoying themselves and the holiday festivities, and we want everyone to be safe on our roadways,” Riverside police Chief Sergio Diaz said. “That’s why we will be stepping up enforcement to catch and arrest impaired drivers.
“Please be forewarned: If you are caught driving impaired, you will be arrested. No warnings. No excuses.”
Agencies countywide will be staffing sobriety checkpoints, as well as conducting saturation patrols, targeting motorists who may be under the influence.
Checkpoints are planned Friday night in Jurupa Valley, Murrieta and San Jacinto, while saturation patrols and other Avoid operations are scheduled in Blythe, Coachella, Corona, Indio and La Quinta.
During last year’s Avoid the 30 end-of-year crackdown, 682 people were arrested on suspicion of DUI.
“We want everyone to enjoy their holidays, but we also want our roadways to be safe,” said Chris Murphy, director of the California Office of Traffic Safety. ”Police, sheriffs and the California Highway Patrol will be out in force to help save lives, and they are not going to tolerate impaired driving.”
The Avoid effort is part of the nationwide ”Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The CHP’s “maximum enforcement period,” when all available officers hit the streets to nab traffic violators, will coincide with Avoid operations on Christmas and New Year’s.
In 2010, 59 people died in alcohol-related crashes in Riverside County. Just under 800 were killed statewide, and 10,000 DUI-related deaths were reported throughout the country that year, according to statistics.
Authorities recommended that people planning to imbibe during holiday festivities designate a sober driver, hire a taxi or use a community sober ride program to get home.
Anyone spotting a possible drunken driver was urged to call 911.