VISALIA — This holiday season, the Visalia Department is working around the clock to keep drivers and passengers safe as they search for impaired drivers.
Now through Jan. 1, 2018, local law enforcement agencies are partnering with the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in a special year-end “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” enforcement mobilization to get impaired drivers off the street and to spread the word about this dangerous crime.
As part of the holiday enforcement campaign period, police, sheriff and the CHP will be setting up DUI checkpoints and conducting DUI saturation patrols in and around Visalia.
“This holiday season, drivers will notice increased enforcement watching closely for anyone who is driving impaired,” said Sgt. Mark Feller of the Visalia PD Traffic Unit. “It is vital that we keep our roads and our travelers safe, not just at the holidays, but every day. With extra travelers on the roads, and people attending holiday parties, we will likely see an uptick in drunk driving. We‘ll be arresting anyone we catch breaking this life-saving law.”
Driving under the influence of alcohol can have deadly, devastating consequences. Nationally in 2016, 37,461 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes, and 28 percent (10,497) died in crashes where a driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the limit of .08. California reported 1,059 DUI deaths at .08 or above. In 2014, 15 people were killed and another 230 were injured in DUI related collisions in Tulare County, according to the California Highway Patrol’s annual report. In 2015, 318 people were killed or injured in an alcohol involved collision in Tulare County. Of those 5% involved drivers under the age of 21. Visalia had 73 alcohol involved crashes, the most in the county, while Porterville had 30, Tulare had 15, Lindsay had 12, Dinuba had 4, and Farmersville had 2, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety. Exeter and Woodlake had zero.
In recent years, California has seen an increase in drug-impaired driving crashes. Visalia PD supports the new effort from the Office of Traffic Safety that aims to educate all drivers that DUI doesn’t just mean booze.
“If you take prescription drugs, particularly those with a driving or operating machinery warning on the label, you might be impaired enough to get a DUI. Marijuana use can also be impairing, especially in combination with alcohol or other drugs, and can result in a DUI. “Two simple words can keep your holiday festivities safe – plan ahead,” said OTS Director Rhonda Craft. “Before you head out to any celebration, plan how you are getting home safely. If you are drinking, that means knowing what sober driver or service will be using.
Drivers are encouraged to download the Designated Driver VIP, or (DDVIP), free mobile app for Android or iPhone. The DDVIP app helps find nearby bars and restaurants that feature free incentives for the designated sober driver, from free non-alcoholic drinks to free appetizers and more. Funding for this DUI operation is provided to Your Police Department by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reminding everyone to “Report Drunk Driver – Call 9-1-1.”