MHPD: Drive safe, sober this holiday season

DUI checkpoint scheduled for Dec. 14 in Morgan Hill

With the holiday season underway, police are reminding motorists to drive safely and soberly in order to reduce the risk of injury or death due to a collision—and avoid being arrested, jailed or fined.

The Morgan Hill Police Department has been conducting “saturation patrols” on local roadways since Nov. 21, reads a Dec. 4 press release from the PD. Morgan Hill officers will also conduct a DUI and driver’s license checkpoint at an undisclosed location within the city limits from 8pm to 2am Friday night, Dec. 14.

Checkpoints are placed in locations that have the best opportunity for achieving drunk and drugged driving deterrence and offer the greatest safety for officers and the public, police said. In addition to checking for motorist impairment, officers at the checkpoint will ensure drivers have a valid license and are in compliance with the state vehicle code.

MHPD’s DUI saturation patrols—in which extra officers are assigned at select times to enforce traffic safety—will continue through Jan. 1, 2019.

These DUI enforcement efforts coincide with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving” campaign, which runs from Nov. 23 to Dec. 12.

“The holidays are a time to enjoy the company of family and friends, but also a time to be extra careful on the roads,” MHPD Sgt. Ray Ramos said. “Sadly, the holiday season leads to an increase in drivers who shouldn’t be driving. It’s important for us to let people know that if you feel different, you drive different.”

Over the last three years, MHPD has arrested 810 drivers on suspicion of DUI and investigated 116 DUI related collisions—resulting in 57 injuries and five deaths, police said.  

During the 2017 Thanksgiving (Nov. 22-26) and Christmas (Dec. 22-25) holidays, 99 people were killed and nearly 4,500 people were injured on California roads, according to authorities. Of those deadly crashes, nearly 35 percent involved alcohol. Alcohol and drug-impaired deaths made up the largest category of overall vehicle fatalities in 2012 with 29 percent of all deaths caused by a drunk driver.

With holiday parties taking place frequently throughout the season, police urge revelers to plan ahead and make sure everyone has a sober ride home. “Even if you’ve had only one drink, play it safe and designate a sober driver or use a ride-share service to get home. If you plan on drinking, don’t plan on driving,” reads the press release.

Police also note that a DUI or drug-impaired arrest and conviction can cost the suspected motorist up to $10,000 or more, including time in jail, the loss of driving privileges and higher insurance rates.

MHPD also supports efforts by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) to inform drivers that “DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze.” Prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and marijuana can also be impairing, especially in combination with alcohol or other drugs, and can result in a DUI, police warned. Funding for holiday season enforcement operations are provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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