Revelers will be out in force on New Year’s Eve, and police would like to remind them they will be too, so don’t drink and drive. According to the Contra Costa Times, DUI checkpoints and increased patrols across Los Angeles tonight into the early hours of 2012 will mark the end of a 17-day campaign against drunken driving during the holidays.
The death toll from DUI crashes is consistently higher between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Last year, 10,228 people were killed in DUI crashes nationwide, including 415 during the second half of December alone, according to the NHTSA. DUI checkpoints on New Year’s Eve will be set up in Marina del Rey, and LAPD will saturate the north San Fernando Valley looking for DUI drivers. California Highway Patrol and other local law enforcement agencies will be patrolling freeways and surface streets across the city, including suburbs such as Burbank, Glendale and San Fernando. Plainclothes officers will also be among the crowds at bars and clubs to make sure bartenders aren’t serving overly drunk patrons. Officers will also be using minor decoys to cite restaurants caught serving underage would-be drinkers trying to get their hands on booze. "We’re trying to match the supply and demand," said Detective Bill Bustos of LAPD Valley Traffic. "We know that during New Year’s Eve, many people are going to be celebrating the new year. We want them to do that, it’s just that we don’t want them to drive if there drinking." The 100 law enforcement agencies involved in the campaign arrested 1,849 people on suspicion of DUI between Dec. 16 and Dec. 29, according to preliminary numbers released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. That number is up from the 1,720 DUI arrests made in the same period last year. DUI arrests have grown 11 percent statewide since 2001 due to increased enforcement, according to Steve Bloch, a researcher with the The Automobile Club of Southern California. Meanwhile, DUI fatalities in California fell 14 percent from 924 deaths in 2009 to 791 last year, according to the NHTSA. In L.A., 14 people were killed in DUI-related crashes in 2010, Bustos said. "Celebrate responsibly," Bustos said. "For those people who do not celebrate responsibly and choose to drink and then drive, then we’re going to have tremendous force and police officers detecting and arresting those individuals."