Thursday, April 17, 2008

California DUI checkpoint update

California DUI lawyer news

California DUI lawyer heard of a crackdown on drunken driving that's been credited with reducing DUI fatalities along Highway 1 in north Monterey County which has won funding for at least seven additional months.

California DUI attoneys are told heightened enforcement between Castroville and Watsonville began Aug. 1, 2007, paid for by a $250,000 grant from the state Office of Traffic Safety. Although the grant was set to expire July 31, the OTC decided to keep the crackdown going at current levels until March of 2009. The 13-mile stretch is one of the most dangerous in California and was one of three in the state targeted for DUI-prevention funding last year. Despite the danger, the narrow, two-lane highway connecting the counties of Monterey and Santa

Cruz is heavily traversed by both commuters and tourists. In a three-year period from 2004 to 2007, 12 people died in DUI crashes along the stretch, the CHP reported. But since the program began, the enforcement corridor has seen just one DUI fatality.

The CHP has added patrols and sobriety checkpoints on weekends, holidays and other days with historically high rates of drunken driving.

"When people see a strong CHP presence on this stretch of road, they'll know not to drink and drive," said CHP Capt. Scott Lynch.

In addition to putting more patrol cars on the road, the program includes a special task force made up of Caltrans, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, state Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, and Calcagno, who represents north county.

For its part, Caltrans has added a soft median to the highway to help prevent deadly cross-median crashes, said Susana Cruz, a Caltrans spokesowman and task force member.

Caltrans will also post four signs, two at both ends of the safety corridor, that read "Arrive Alive - Don't Drink and Drive."

The DUI prevention effort isn't intended to increase the number of DUI arrests in the area, said Officer Jim Covello, a spokesman for the CHP's Monterey-area office, but to decrease the number of crashes.

"There's not a correlation between more officers and more arrests," he said. "More officers are often a visual deterrent."

Statistics on the number of DUI arrests on the stretch since August weren't immediately available.

DUI arrests have increased over the past few years countywide, with 260 in 2005, 262 in 2006, 282 in 2007 and a projected 358 this year, California DUI lawyers report.