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Law enforcement crossing fingers: DUI arrests down

By: Andrew DiLuccia, Journal Motoring Editor
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Even with the extra temptation of alcohol during the holiday season, drivers seem to be getting the message — don’t drink and drive. The AVOID the 7 DUI enforcement program, which includes the Auburn, Rocklin, Roseville and Lincoln police departments, Placer County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol and California State Park, reported just 102 DUI arrests in Placer County during the winter mobilization period of Dec. 12 through Jan. 1, 2009. That’s a drop of more than 80 from the previous year, when 184 were arrested locally for DUI. However, the numbers released Monday were missing arrests made by the Lincoln Police Department, and a few missing reports from other departments. Are people getting the message not to drink and drive? “I hope so, this is the first year as a state that we’ve seen a decline in DUI accidents. So that’s good,” said Scott Alford, an officer with the Auburn Police Department and contact for the AVOID program in Placer County. “Part of it is the message getting out there. And the other part of it is officers are enforcing a lot more. Those that aren’t getting the message that we’re putting out there, we’re arresting.” Alford reported that there were 14 DUI-related crashes in Placer County during the enforcement period this year and 14 DUI-related injuries. There was one DUI-related fatality reported in Placer County this year as well, in Roseville. The AVOID program put out more saturation patrols and more officers on the street to help enforce the law and get offenders off the street. Law enforcement officials say working with the community and media has also helped in their efforts to curtail drunk driving. “I think it’s a cumulative effort by the highway patrol that we use the media as an educational tool, and on the other hand use our tool of proper enforcement,” said Newcastle California Highway Patrol officer Dave Montijo, who reported five holiday DUI arrests for the CHP in the area. While the AVOID program is working hard to crack down on the entire county, Alford said he feels that the Auburn Police Department does its best to get drunk drivers off the city streets. “A lot of people know if you drink and drive — at least in Auburn — there’s a pretty good chance you’ll go to jail for it,” he said. “Our officers are pretty aggressive in enforcing the DUI laws. We do our best to keep the streets safe.” The Journal’s Andrew DiLuccia can be reached at andrewd@goldcountrymedia.com, or post a comment at Auburnjournal.com.