Sunday, August 17, 2008

California cops beef up DUI checkpoints in Riverside

California DUI attorneys at report Riverside County is ramping up patrols to nab drunken drivers today through Labor Day.

The first sobriety checkpoints are scheduled for today in Corona and Riverside, followed by multiple enforcement operations in Blythe, Coachella, La Quinta, Murrieta and Palm Springs, according to Riverside police traffic bureau supervisor Karen Haverkamp.

The effort is part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's “Drunk Driving: Over the Limit, Under Arrest'” campaign.

Haverkamp said Riverside County's 30 law enforcement agencies — which include municipal police departments, the Sheriff's Department and California Highway Patrol — will be adding patrols and setting up checkpoints for the duration of the campaign.

Ben Guitron, Indio police spokesman, said the department will be staffing about six additional patrol officers, but not until Labor Day weekend.

Labor Day usually isn't as busy as Christmas or New Year's, he said.

“A lot of people head to cooler places,” Guitron said.

Officials from the Cathedral City Police Department said they also usually amp up patrol around Labor Day.

The anti-DUI operations are funded, in part, by a $700,000 federal grant.

“All too often, innocent law-abiding people suffer tragic consequences and the loss of loved ones due to this careless disregard for human life,” said Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach Wednesday. “We'll be especially vigilant during high-risk nighttime hours when impaired drivers are most likely to be on our roads.”

According to national data, 32 percent of motor vehicle driving fatalities are caused by motorists who get behind the wheel with a blood-alcohol level of .08 or above.

In California and every other state, plus the District of Columbia, it's illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a .08 BAC or higher.

California Office of Traffic Safety Director Christopher Murphy said law enforcement officers often rely on law-abiding drivers to “report drunk drivers by calling 911.”

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