Monday, August 18, 2008

Anti-California DUI campaign pushes forward

California DUI attorneys are informed if Inland residents in Los Angeles, San Bernardino or Riverside counties are pulled over during the next several days, the only buzz they have better have come from caffeine or an energy drink.
Friday began the nationwide "Avoid" campaign designed to make motorists think twice about getting behind the wheel intoxicated.

The campaign, which ends Sept. 1, takes on different names in different counties.

According to the California Avoid Web site, the anti-DUI program was started in 1973 as a way to consolidate law enforcement agencies in the fight against drunken driving.

There are 45 law enforcement agencies in California that participate in the Avoid program. Among them are agencies in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties.

For the eastern portion of Los Angeles County the program takes the form of Avoid the 40, in reference to the 40 law enforcement agencies that participate in the Summer Mobilization enforcement period.

Unlike the DUI/driver's license checkpoints that are stationary and rely on motorists to voluntarily go through them, Avoid patrols are not that easy to spot.

Those roving patrols consist of officers who are solely on the lookout for impaired drivers.

La Verne police Sgt. Mark Baca thinks the program has a positive effect on reducing the number of drunks on the roads.

"They (officers) can target a greater number of vehicles," Baca said. "They're only looking



for that one thing."
La Verne will send a two-officer patrol out to search for drunken or drugged drivers, he explained.

Riverside County sheriff's Investigator Jerry Franchville believes all the television spots and other advertisements definitely help make the public aware of the patrols.

"I do think it works," he said. "With all the publicity it gets and all the advertisements you see. A good example of that would be the new cell phone law. The CHP (California Highway Patrol) did not quite get the numbers they thought they would," he said in reference to the number of citations they thought they would write.

Riverside sheriff's deputies are part of the "Avoid the 30" campaign.

Despite all the publicity, Franchville said drunken driving is an unfortunate year-round event. But because of extra patrols on holidays, the number of DUI arrests tends to be higher.

According to information from Wendy Soos, Community Service Officer with the Glendora Police Department, the grant-funded Avoid campaign will run for an additional three years. And, on Oct. 1, the three current Avoid programs in Los Angeles County will come under one umbrella and become the new "Avoid the 100" DUI Task Force.