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Police cracking down on DUIs in Folsom, El Dorado Hills areas

Local law enforcement will be out in force over the New Year’s holiday
By: Laura Newell, Telegraph staff writer
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Drunken revelers beware, if you get behind the wheel, local law enforcement agencies are looking for you. A statewide crackdown on drunk drivers, spearheaded by the California Highway Patrol, is being enforced by regional agencies. Officers are increasing efforts to get impaired drivers off the roads and educating drivers on the dangers of drunk driving. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, the 2011 statewide DUI Crackdown runs through Jan. 2, just as many Californians are expected to hit the roads for the holidays. “Receiving a DUI is an awful experience,” said Office of Traffic Safety Director Christopher Murphy. “Killing or injuring someone as a result of drunk driving is a horrendous crime that could have been easily avoided — during the holiday season, or at any time. Law enforcement will be out in force with a commitment to stopping drunk driving through increased checkpoint efforts, which have been proven as the most effective DUI countermeasure.” Counties across the state will be setting up DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols, said officials at the Office of Traffic Safety. The task force draws resources from local police, sheriff and CHP offices for operations that get impaired drivers off the road as well as make the public aware of the dangers of drunk driving. Specially trained officers will also be on hand to detect drivers under the influence of legal and illegal drugs. Sacramento and El Dorado county law enforcement will participate in the crackdown. Officer Jasper Begay works in the Rancho Cordova CHP office, which covers Sacramento County through Bass Lake, including Folsom and El Dorado Hills areas. “As far as CHP, we always have enforcement patrols to get drunk, distracted and speeding drivers off the road,” Begay said. “But, during the holiday season we will have a maximum enforcement period.” The first maximum enforcement period ran Friday, Dec. 23 to Monday, Dec. 26. The second period will run from 6 p.m., Friday, Dec. 30 to noon, Monday, Jan. 2. “Last year, four people were killed in California during the Christmas weekend,” Begay said. “During the New Year weekend, 25 people were killed.” He said last year Rancho Cordova CHP made 961 DUI arrests during the New Year’s weekend. “This is generally because people tend to go out more during the New Year holiday,” he said. “The best thing we suggest to avoid (a DUI), is to make a plan before going out.” Begay said a plan should include arranging to have a designated driver who will not drink at all during the course of the evening. Other options include taking a taxi cab or staying at the location overnight. “If the party is at a hotel, just get a room for the night,” he said. “The best bet is not to drive at all after drinking alcohol. There are a lot of factors that go into drinking alcohol including a person’s weight and metabolism. There are too many factors to measure whether a person is too drunk to drive.” Begay said to remember that one bottle of beer is equivalent to one glass of wine, which is equivalent to one shot of hard alcohol. Therefore if someone is drinking a mixed drink throughout the evening, they can drink six shots without realizing how much alcohol was actually consumed. He said if a drunk driver gets pulled over for a DUI, it will cost them $3,000 to $10,000 throughout the entire process — vehicle towed and released, raised vehicle insurance rates, court fees and attorney fees, jail sentencing fees and bail fees and follow-up programs including DUI classes. “If you are involved in a collision and injure someone, your fees will be even higher after covering the other person involved,” Begay said. “When people drink and drive, the driver’s reaction time slows down. So if a child runs out into the street, the driver won’t think as quickly while intoxicated to react to situations.” Begay also advises drivers and passengers to buckle up their seatbelts, no matter the distance driven. He said many times, fatal accidents could have been prevented if people wore their seatbelt. In January, Begay said a new law will require children up to 8 years old and 49-and-a-half-inches tall to be buckled into a booster car seat. “Be safe driving during the holidays,” Begay said. “We definitely want to reduce the number of people killed during those holiday weekends.” If unsafe driving is spotted, Begay said people should call 911 to report drunk drivers.