The Coast News Group

DUI checkpoints help ensure safe holidays

OCEANSIDE — Oceanside police are joining fellow county police, sheriff and highway patrol officers in cracking down on drunk driving during December and January.

The holiday message law enforcement is sending is for people to drive sober or expect to get pulled over.

National statistics show intoxicated drivers killed 830 victims in December 2012, and 26 of those deaths occurred on Christmas Day.

Another sad fact is 40 percent of drunk drivers who caused the fatalities had a prior DUI.

Sgt. Ignacio Lopez, of the Oceanside police traffic services unit, said to counter holiday drunk drivers DUI checkpoints will be set up from mid-December through January to search for drunk or drug-impaired drivers.

An Oceanside checkpoint on Dec. 19 netted six DUI arrests, 32 citations and 20 stored vehicles.

Police stress the best decision a driver can make is not to get behind the wheel when intoxicated.

“Be a responsible drinker, and safely operate a vehicle,” Lopez said.

Police advise drivers to think ahead and avoid causing an accident, or paying a DUI fine that can reach $10,000. Designate a sober driver before going out, call a family member or friend for a ride or use a taxi or public transportation.

A grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, enables local enforcement efforts to be stepped up during the winter holidays.

The public is asked to report suspected drunk drivers to 911 or through the Office of Traffic Safety DDVIP phone app.