Friday, December 28, 2012
Starting Friday night San Diego County, police departments plan to stage checkpoints to catch holiday revelers who choose to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Police officers in El Cajon scheduled a checkpoint from about 6 p.m. today until 3 a.m. Saturday in an effort to reduce the number of people injured or killed in alcohol- or drug-related crashes and to ensure that drivers had valid licenses, according to Monica Zech, the city's public information officer.
But publicizing the enforcement and education efforts will hopefully get people planning ahead, Zech said.
“Designate a driver before you arrive at your event or party," she said. "If you’re hosting a party, make sure you set the rules down about drinking and driving, provide a safe ride home. Maybe you’ve got somebody designated to give somebody a ride home who has been drinking. Or, have a place to sleep at that party.”
The Escondido Police Department will also conduct a checkpoint Friday, Escondido Police Lt. Tom Albergo said.
Seven people were killed and 234 were injured in drunken driving crashes in Escondido over the past three years, according to Albergo.
"DUI checkpoints have been an essential part of the phenomenal reduction in DUI deaths that we witnessed since 2006 in California," Christopher J. Murphy, director of the California Office of Traffic Safety, said. "But since the tragedy of DUI accounts for nearly one-third of traffic fatalities, Escondido needs the high visibility enforcement and public awareness that checkpoints provide."
The San Diego Police Department's Traffic Unit planned checkpoints from 9 p.m. Saturday until 3:30 a.m. Sunday, and again starting at 9 p.m. Monday at undisclosed locations within the city, according to San Diego Police Officer Mark McCullough.
"Over the course of the past three years, DUI collisions have claimed 60 lives and resulted in 2,518 injury crashes harming 4,992 of our friends and neighbors," McCullough said, adding checkpoints' deterrent effect was a proven resource in reducing the number of people injured or killed in alcohol- or drug-related crashes.
Several local companies are providing services for drivers who haven't planned ahead and find themselves unable to drive on New Year's.
San Diego MTS buses and trolleys will run on Sunday schedules on New Year's Day, and each paying rider can bring on an additional rider for free. North County Transit buses and trains will have extended schedules on the night of New Year's Eve and will waive fares starting at 6 p.m.