850 arrest warrants served in DUI sweep

December 30, 2009 1:48:28 PM PST
A major effort is underway to arrest drunk driving offenders.

Dozens of people in Alameda County will be spending time in jail after 60 law enforcement officers went on a hunt for DUI offenders.

2009 is ending with a thud for 41-year-old Lawrence Piatti of Danville. As part of the Avoid the 21 DUI crackdown, Livermore police are taking him away, pausing only long enough to make absolutely sure he has not taken care of a DUI matter.

"His warrant is confirmed, it is what we call a 'no bail.' The judge wants to see him. We will be taking him to Santa Rita Jail right now," said Livermore Police Officer Traci Reveijo.

But time is not on the side of people with DUI arrest warrants. Last year, officers say one of their 500 warrants was 20 years old. This year, 60 officers from a number of agencies have 850 of these special deliveries.

"They've been arrested for DUI and they have either not shown up for court, haven't paid their fine, haven't gone to DUI school -- whatever it is -- there has been a warrant issued for their arrest," said Livermore Police Sgt. John Hurd.

Police say they only locate about 10 percent of those they're looking for, but they feel their work is not in vain. Sometimes merely leaving a business card results in a suspect turning themselves in, as they realize the system has not forgotten them.

"Eventually it all catches up with you. It might not be this year, but it might be next year. The warrants stay in the system forever," said Officer Reveijo.

While some of the suspects will only be cited, many repeat offenders are being taken into custody.

San Mateo Assemblyman Jerry Hill wants the law to allow for more than that. He is unveiling a bill that would allow judges to permanently repeal a DUI offender's license after a third conviction and to consider a suspect's entire driving record, not just the last 10 years, during sentencing.

There are 34,000 drivers in California with three or more DUIs.


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