[UPDATED with Villa Park Checkpoint, Results:] As Bombs Burst in Air on the Fourth, Smokies on the Ground Hunt for Drunk Drivers
See end of post for details on Fourth of July holiday DUI arrests, injuries and deaths so far, and a new checkpoint announced in Villa Park.
ORIGINAL POST, JULY 3, 9:38 A.M.: Orange County law enforcement has big plans for the Fourth of July as it is anticipated fireworks won't be the only thing lit.
Saturation patrols--which is where patrol cars saturate designated areas looking for over-saturated motorists--run countywide tonight through Wednesday night, there's a sobriety checkpoint in Placentia on the Fourth, while Buena Park stops cars Friday night.
The Orange County "Avoid the 38" DUI Task Force--38 refers to the number of participating police agencies--steps up saturation patrols tonight and, because so many people take the rest of the week off, will keep them going through the end of the weekend, according to sheriff's Deputy Wayne Howard.
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Targeted areas, which are those known for multiple drunken driving arrests, incidents and collisions, are in the cities of Brea, Buena Park, Fullerton, Irvine, La Palma, Orange, Placentia, Seal Beach, Westminster and those communities the Orange County Sheriff's Department patrols under contracts.
The campus of Cal State Fullerton will also get the attention of "Avoid the 38," while the California Highway Patrol has announced a "Maximum Enforcement Period" on OC freeways, state highways and unincorporated roads from 6 tonight through midnight Wednesday.
The Placentia Police Department conducts its checkpoint, which tries to snare impaired and/or unlicensed drivers, from 6 p.m. Wednesday through 2 a.m. Thursday at an undisclosed intersection.
The Buena Park Police Traffic Unit runs a DUI/drivers license stop of its own from 7 p.m. Friday through 2 a.m. Saturday at Beach Boulevard and 10th Street. According to department data, there have been 15 deaths, 94 injuries and 722 crashes linked to driving under the influence over the past three years.
Funding for these ops comes from a California Office of Traffic Safety grant, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Both government agencies claim that for $1 spent on DUI enforcement, communities save $6 in the long run.
UPDATE, JULY 5, 3:57 P.M.: From midnight Tuesday through midnight Wednesday, 38 Orange County law enforcement agencies arrested 78 people for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, according to the "Avoid the 38" campaign coordinated by the sheriff's department.
There were no DUI-related fatalities.
It's tough to compare those stats to previous years because with the Fourth falling in the middle of the week, there was not a day before or after it to designate as a holiday nor any hope of a three-day weekend.
However, because the Fourth was on a Wednesday, the anti-DUI campaign is going to assume some people or businesses are taking off the rest of the week, so saturation patrols of areas known for drunken driving arrests and crashes will continue into and beyond the coming weekend.
During the last two days of the 2011 July 4 weekend, there were 107 DUI arrests.
The sheriff's department announced today there will be a DUI/drivers license checkpoint somewhere in Villa Park from 6 p.m. Friday through 2 a.m. Saturday (so consider this your warning, James and Deborah Pauly!).
As mentioned in the original post, there's also a checkpoint from 7 p.m. Friday through 2 a.m. Saturday at Beach Boulevard and 10th Street in Buena Park.
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