This Labor Day holiday Yolo County is cracking down on drunk driving.
Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest., the national Labor Day enforcement program, was launched on Aug. 21, and will last until Sept. 4. Yolo has been a part of the AVOID Anti-DUI program since 2006.
Organized by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the program focuses on combining high-visibility enforcement with heightened public awareness through advertising and publicity.
“The program is very effective,” said Mothers Against Drunk Driving Program Coordinator Silas Miers. “It’s very preventative in that the publicity gets it into people’s minds that they could end up getting arrested if they don’t make plans [for a designated driver] before they go out.“
The cost of a DUI in Yolo County is about $9,000, including the cost of a lawyer, car impound fees, a booking fee – a mug shot and fingerprints – the DUI fine, DUI classes and a mandatory donation to the Drunk Driving Victims Fund, according to the UC Davis website.
Police checkpoints are set up in addition to law enforcement patrol to stop drunk drivers and hand out educational information to all drivers.
The Avoid Campaign brings together different agencies to combat drunk driving.
For example, in Davis, the California Highway Patrol, the Davis Police Department, the campus police department and West Sacramento police may all work together at a police checkpoint.
“The Yolo County program is effective because it follows all of the fundamental Avoid principles of cooperation between many agencies,” said UC Davis Police Lieutenant Matthew Carmichael. “The fact that UC Davis is also part of it also helps.“
California Office of Traffic Safety spokesperson Chris Cochran agreed.
“Spreading enforcement out makes it so no one department is depleted,” Cochran said. “The different agencies and officers complement each other and contribute to the effort.”
This year’s effort is supported by $13 million in paid-national advertising to warn residents that if they are caught driving under the influence, they will be arrested.
According to the DPD, Yolo received $291,404 in funding for the program from the OTS for 2008 to 2012.
Davis Police Sergeant Ton Phan summed up the Avoid Campaign’s efforts.
“We just want to make sure people are enjoying themselves safely during the holidays,” Phan said. “We encourage people to designate drivers.“
Forty-one out of 58 counties in California participate in the program, covering 98 percent of the state’s population. The counties not involved are sparsely populated with limited staff or agencies available to run the program.
There will also be increased enforcement mobilization during the winter holiday, Memorial Day weekend and the Fourth of July weekend as well as
heightened police patrol during Cinco de Mayo and St. Patrick’s Day.
The program started in 1974, with Santa Clara County joining first. In California, there has been a 9 percent reduction in deaths from drunk driving situations since 2007.
When Yolo County joined the program in 2006, there was one fatal collision during the summer season and 10 arrests in the area. In 2008 there were 13 DUI arrests in Yolo during the summer season, with no fatal DUI collisions. This year’s results have not yet been published.
According to a survey conducted by the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies from 2007 to 2008, about 3,677 students – or 13 percent – drive to school, while the Davis police say there are occasionally some college-aged drunk drivers.
ANGELA SWARTZ can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.