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July 16, 2010 > 'Avoid the 21' crackdown

'Avoid the 21' crackdown

By Meenu Gupta

The 'Avoid the 21 DUI' (Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs) campaign deployed Officers over the Independence Day weekend to continue efforts to arrest drunk drivers, lowering deaths and injuries, and educating the public about the dangers of impaired driving.

According to Jan Ford, Public Information Officer, a sobriety checkpoint in Fremont, Highway Patrol freeway saturation and DUI saturation patrols in five cities were part of the increased enforcement. Seventy-six suspected drunk drivers were taken into custody during the four-day Fourth of July weekend campaign that finished at midnight July 5. According to Lt. Ava Garavatti of the Livermore police, Avoid the 21 coordinator, this total compares with 80 for the Independence Day weekend last year.

The purpose of the sobriety checkpoint is to reduce the number of traffic collisions related to intoxicated drivers and hit-and-run collisions. Officers screen drivers passing through the checkpoint for sobriety and a valid driver's license. The checkpoint serves as a reminder to use designated drivers and not drink and drive. Funding for the Avoid Campaign is through a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Each "Avoid" campaign is named for the number of police agencies in the county.

"Police, Sheriff and CHP officers' multi-year efforts to combat the crime of drunk driving is a large factor in reversing the trend of increasing deaths on California's streets and highways," said Director Chris Murphy, of the California Office of Traffic Safety. "But I believe that every community member's effort to get involved and reporting drunk drivers has helped save lives as well. If you see drunk driver- don't hesitate, call 911," said Murphy.

An 18-day campaign starting August 20 and ending September 6 is the next crackdown for Avoid the 21, now in its eleventh year. Drunk driving not only endangers lives, but the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest for impaired driving can also be significant. Remember, if you are at the limit or over the limit, you are under arrest. For further information visit www.californiaavoid.org.

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