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San Diego Authorities To Crack Down On Irresponsible Partiers This Holiday Weekend

Aired 7/2/13 on KPBS News.

State and local authorities are cracking down on irresponsible partiers this holiday weekend.

— Flanked by dozens of officers dressed in their khaki, black and blue uniforms, San Diego Police Chief Bill Lansdowne had a message for Independence Day partiers: "If you drink and drive, you're going to be in trouble — you're going to spend your weekend not at the beach, but with us."

San Diego Alcohol Policy Panel Chair Person Beth Sise is joined by officers from the county's 15 agencies to announce "Operation Safeguard," July 2, 2013.

Just a few dozen yards from where he stood was a reminder of alcohol's sometimes fatal consequences — a mangled mess of metal from a 2009 car accident caused by a drunken driver. After leaving a party, a 17-year-old driver broadsided a car and killed a 53-year-old woman.

To address preventable accidents like this, Lansdowne was joined by officers from 15 local law enforcement agencies to announce the beginning of "Operation Safeguard," a five-day countywide campaign to reduce alcohol related deaths and injuries.

Since 2008, there have been 54 alcohol-involved deaths over the 3 days surrounding and including 4th of July, according to the county medical examiner. Of those deaths, 27 percent involved drunk drivers.

"Operation Safeguard" will include DUI checkpoints and roving patrols. Officers will step up their enforcement of the social host ordinance to help reduce underage drinking.

This wreckage is what's left after a 17-year-old drove drunk and killed a 53-year-old woman.

The social host law holds legally responsible a person who knowingly allowed underage drinking at an event.

Steve Lykins, the executive director of the San Diego affiliate of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said preventing underage drinking now will pay off later on down the road.

"Statistics have shown that if we can make an impact on drinking underage, then that will prevent drinking and driving when they're adults," he said.

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