CHP plan DUI checkpoints for holiday weekend

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LAKE COUNTY – In an effort to make the roads safer during the Memorial Day weekend, the California Highway Patrol is increasing enforcement and planning a local checkpoint to look for drivers who may be drunk or high behind the wheel.


Memorial Day weekend traditionally marks the beginning of summer and the end of the school year, with people enjoying outdoor activities and events.


The holiday weekend also is a Maximum Enforcement Period for the CHP. All available officers will be on duty from 6 p.m. on Friday, May 25 through midnight on Monday, May 28, the CHP reported Thursday.


CHP, the State Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), Caltrans, Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) and local law enforcement agencies are asking that drivers plan ahead before heading out for fun – which includes having a designated driver, wearing your seat belt and not speeding.


“Once the barbecue is over, you still have to get home safely,” CHP Commissioner Mike Brown said in a statement.


Brown reported that 80-percent of CHP's officers statewide will be out looking for people driving while drunk or not complying with other rules of the road.


Locally, that will include one DUI checkpoint on May 26, according to Lt. Dane Hayward, the Clear Lake CHP office commander.


Hayward said the checkpoint will be staffed by CHP officers trained in detecting drivers who are impaired by drugs or alcohol.


CHP Drug Recognition Experts, certified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, also will be on site to provide on the spot assessments of drivers suspected of drug use, according to Hayward. Officers will be equipped with state of the art hand-held breath devices which provide an accurate measure of blood alcohol concentrations of suspected drunk drivers.


Traffic permitting, said Hayward, all vehicles will be checked, and any driver suspected of DUI can expect to be arrested.


“Our objective is to send a clear message to those considering mixing alcohol and/or drugs with driving during summer vacation the CHP will be keeping a watchful eye out for you,” he said.


Hayward said the checkpoints are an effective tool in reducing the high frequency of drunk driving on the roads during the holidays.


Officer Josh Dye of the Clearlake CHP office said DUI checkpoints are conducted at regular times throughout the year, such as Memorial Day.


Last year CHP officers statewide arrested 1,639 drivers for DUI during the Memorial Day weekend, the CHP reported. That is a 6.5-percent increase over the previous year.


Memorial Day DUI statistics for past years weren't available for Lake County. However, DUI remains a year-round problem in Lake County.


As Lake County News previously reported, there was an increase in DUI arrests in Lake County from 2005 to 2006, rising from 360 to a reported 411, or about a 14-percent increase, according to CHP records. However, from 2001 to 2005 there was a steady decline in local DUI arrests.


CHP works to reduce fatalities


Last Memorial Day weekend, 20 people were killed on roadways within CHP jurisdiction, statewide, Brown reported. While that number was down significantly from the previous year’s total of 33, Brown said, “We can still do better.”


As part of that effort to reduce fatalities, OTS is coordinating California law enforcement’s 2007 “Click It or Ticket” campaign.


“We have funded overtime to put extra police and CHP officers on the road to look for people not wearing their seat belt during this campaign,” said OTS Director Christopher J. Murphy.


Fifty percent of the people killed on the roadways during Memorial Day weekend were not wearing their seat belts, Murphy reported.


Caltrans Director Will Kempton said they're also joining the effort, and asking the public to help keep impaired drivers off the road.


Signs at Caltrans statewide network of public rest stops urge people to report drunk drivers by calling 9-1-1, Kempton reported. When calling to report someone suspected of driving under the influence, try to provide as much of the following information as possible: description of the vehicle, its location and direction of travel.


Because a lot of teens are driving at this time of year, extra ABC agents will be working over the weekend to prevent the sale of alcohol to underage or intoxicated people, said ABC Director Steve Hardy.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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