At www.SanDiegoDrunkDrivingAttorney.net, California dui criminal defense attorneys are told traffic deaths dropped dramatically across the state in response to a police crackdown on drunken drivers on the last long weekend of the summer. "Arrests are up a little bit, but deaths are way down for the Labor Day weekend," said California Highway Patrol Officer Hugo Mendoza. "It seems like people are paying attention to what we've been saying."
From 6 p.m. Friday to Monday evening, there were two reported fatalities in the Bay Area, the same as last year. But statewide figures show that as of 6 a.m. Monday, there had been 23 traffic deaths over the weekend, down from 42 last year.
Those figures also show just how important seat belts can be in an accident, Mendoza said. Of the 19 people who died in traffic accidents of CHP-patrolled roads this weekend, three were on motorcycles and 16 were in cars.
Nine of those 16 people killed weren't wearing seat belts.
"It's surprising, because when we go out looking, it's hard to find people who aren't wearing seat belts," he said. "But some of those people who weren't wearing them could be alive today if they had buckled up."
Not everyone has gotten the word to take it easy at the end-of-summer parties. As of 6 a.m. Monday, CHP officers had arrested 1,416 people across the state for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, only a few more than the number for the same period last year, 1,406. In the Bay Area, the 377 arrests are down some from 2007. Final weekend arrest numbers are expected today.
There are 125 Bay Area law enforcement agencies putting on a full-court-press against drunken drivers in the regional Avoid DUI Campaign this weekend.
The push, which involves putting extra officers on the streets and highways and running various street check points for impaired drivers, continued until midnight.