24 individuals in California died in traffic related crashes during the five-day Fourth of July holiday period in 2007 in which the driver, motorcyclist, or pedestrian involved had been drinking. Another 581 were injured, many now suffering with life changing disabilities.
That’s why The Avoid the 8 DUI Campaign, encompassing several law enforcement agencies in Siskiyou County, announced on July 2 that they will be joining with other highway safety and law enforcement officials statewide and throughout the country to remind Fourth of July party-goers that “Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving” and to designate a sober driver before the celebrations begin.
Sobriety checkpoints and local DUI saturation patrols and DUI arrest teams are planned in the following communities:
• Northern Siskiyou County – Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department, the Yreka Police Department, and the California Highway Patrol.
• Southern Siskiyou County – Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department and the California Highway Patrol.
“Too many people still don’t understand that alcohol, drugs and driving just don’t mix. Impaired driving is no accident – nor is it a victimless crime. Too many lives are being lost and we need everyone’s help to stop it,” said Sheriff Rick Riggins.
In 2006 (the latest figures available), 4,196 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes. There were 1,597 killed in traffic crashes that were alcohol involved, with another 31,099 injured.
“Police, sheriff and CHP officials statewide are asking for your help,” said Riggins. “If you see a suspected drunk driver, please report this crime! Call 9-1-1 and give the location, direction of travel and vehicle description. But please don’t attempt to get involved by attempting to stop the suspected driver. Be the witness who makes your community a safer place to live.”
Riggins said much of the tragedy from drunk driving can be prevented with a few simple precautions before going out to celebrate:
• Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin
• Before drinking, designate a sober driver and give that person your keys
• If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation so you are sure to get home safely
• If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to Call 9-1-1
• If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely. “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.”
Violators will face jail time, the loss of their driver’s license, higher insurance rates, and dozens of other unanticipated expenses.
“It’s obvious to recognize someone who’s had way too much to drink to drive safely. But what about those who have had just a couple too many?” said Riggins. “You don’t have to be ‘falling down drunk’ to be a threat to yourself and others on the road.”
AVOID programs are named for the number of police agencies in each county. The programs seek to publicize the combined DUI efforts of all law enforcement agencies in California to raise awareness of the problems associated with drinking and driving, especially during major holiday periods.
Additional information about the Avoid Program and operational plans from around the region can be found at www.californiaavoid.org/