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DUI arrests remain high in SCV

‘Don’t drink and drive’ not getting through to motorists, official says

Posted: July 8, 2013 5:56 p.m.
Updated: July 8, 2013 5:56 p.m.

In this file photo, Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies stop and talk to motorists during a driver's license and sobriety checkpoint on Valencia Boulevard in Valencia. Photo by Jonathan Pobre.

Nearly half the arrests made during the Fourth of July weekend in the Santa Clarita Valley were for drunken driving. Local motorists just don’t seem to be getting the message “Don’t drink and drive,” one local sheriff’s sergeant said Monday.

Out of 46 arrests booked between Thursday and Sunday, 21 were for drunken driving, according to the Santa Clarita Valley booking log for California Highway Patrol officers at the Newhall Station and deputies with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.

In July 2011, about half of all local criminal suspects booked by sheriff’s deputies and California Highway Patrol officers were charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol, a survey by The Signal showed.
Two years later, the percentage of DUI charges filed is about the same.

By the end of July 2011, more than 100 people had been charged with DUI in the Santa Clarita Valley, with an average of three people a day charged.

“Three a day — that sounds about right for what we have now,” Sgt. Rich Cohen, who heads the sheriff’s Traffic Bureau, said Monday.

“I just don’t think they take into account the penalties for one thing, but also what could occur in terms of hurting themselves or hurting somebody else, including death.”

Alcohol is suspected to be a factor in at least five traffic collisions that have resulted in serious injury or death in the Santa Clarita Valley so this year, according to law enforcement officials.

Both the CHP and the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station receive state funding to carry out regular DUI checkpoints.
The federal government offers grants to law enforcement agencies aimed at pumping up the sobriety checkpoints.

Funding for the Impaired Driving Enforcement and Apprehension campaign is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A CHP checkpoint scheduled for last Friday was canceled, but another one is scheduled Thursday night by the Sheriff’s Station.

Law enforcement generally releases the date of checkpoints ahead of time, but the locations are never released. The idea is to help provide another deterrent to drinking and driving.

“Sometimes the public pressure is enough for people to make the right decision,” said CHP Sgt. John Lutz.

In 2010 alone, 791 died in California DUI crashes in which a driver or motorcycle rider was at or above the legal limit. The age group with the highest percentage of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes was the 21-to-24-year-old age group.

Over the past three years, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station has investigated 212 fatal- and injury-related DUI collision. Countywide, 730 individuals were killed in drunken-driving wrecks.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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