Avoid the 7 cracking down on drunk drivers

By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Placer County law enforcement is continuing its crackdown on drunk drivers over the New Year’s Eve holiday. Avoid the 7 consists of the California Highway Patrol, Placer County Sheriff’s Office, California State Parks, and the Auburn, Lincoln, Roseville and Rocklin police departments. The team is continuing checkpoints and saturation patrols through Sunday to enforce its motto of “Drunk driving: Over the limit. Under arrest.” Between midnight Dec. 17 and midnight Dec. 27 officers arrested 37 people for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, according to Officer Todd Rayback of the Lincoln Police Department. As of Tuesday Auburn Police officers had arrested nine people for driving under the influence during the month of December, and a total of 120 throughout the year, according to Detective Scott Alford of the Auburn Police Department. As of Dec. 27, which was the most recent data reported by Thursday, there were no DUI-related deaths during the same 10-day period in Placer County, according to Rayback. The campaign continues through Sunday, and law enforcement plans to focus its efforts on stopping and arresting DUI drivers Saturday, Rayback said. Officer Dave Montijo, of the California Highway Patrol, said DUI enforcement is one of the agency’s three main goals, and it’s even more important during the holidays. “Being the holiday season, people tend to celebrate, and sometimes those celebrations involve alcohol,” Montijo said. Alford said people drink and drive as a result of impaired decision making and failure to plan ahead. “By the time you are up to a .08 you don’t feel it as much,” Alford said. “It numbs your central nervous system, and a lot of the time people don’t know how impaired they are. Alcohol helps people make stupid decisions unfortunately.” Alford said it’s these impaired decisions that lead to DUI-related accidents and deaths. “In my experience people like to deny they have been drinking, and when we let them know it’s clear they have been it’s, ‘Well, I only had two beers,’” he said. “They are deceptive about it.” Montijo said his experiences have been very similar. “Typically until it gets down to brass tacks, typically they won’t tell me they have been drinking,” he said. Montijo said if people are even slightly unsure whether or not they should drive after drinking, they shouldn’t. “If there is any doubt in the mind of the driver, don’t drive,” he said. “One beer affects one person differently than another person. If your friends are telling you they are worried, pay attention to them. Your friends know you best. That campaign ‘Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving’ is very true. You don’t have to be sloppy drunk to cause an accident and injure somebody.” Montijo said he also encourages everyone to drive defensively this holiday weekend. “Most fatal DUI crashes happen between midnight and 3 a.m., so be careful on the roads. Do what you always do: watch carefully. Don’t assume everyone is as good a driver as you are.” Reach Bridget Jones at ------------------------------------------------------- Options to avoid the clink when you’ve had a few drinks -AAA Northern California is once again giving residents a chance to get home safely with their cars without driving after drinking. The company is offering its Tipsy Tow service between the hours of 6 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Saturday. Anyone concerned about a person’s driving capabilities can call (800) 222-4357 and say, “I need a Tipsy Tow,” according to Matt Skryja, spokesman for AAA Northern California. Skryja said the tow is free up to 10 miles from the pickup point to the person’s residence, and those who use the service don’t need to be AAA members. “We want everyone to ring in the New Year by having fun and enjoying the evening with friends and family,” Skryja said. “But we want everyone to do it safely and responsibly.” -For those who need to get back home after traveling outside of Auburn to the Folsom, Roseville and Sacramento area, Last Call Sacramento offers volunteer designated drivers. These drivers will take a person and his or her vehicle home. For information, call (916) 933-7483. -Local taxi companies: Foothill Flyer in Meadow Vista (530) 878-0808, Sierra Cab in Auburn (530) 885-2227