Bay Area cops start holiday DUI crackdown

The efforts, which involve 125 departments in the nine Bay Area counties, are part of California's Holiday DUI Crackdown Campaign, which will run through Jan. 3, 2010, to keep the roads safe from people drinking and driving during the holidays.

In 2008, there were 1,029 people who died in drunk-driving related crashes in California, as well as an additional 28,457 who were injured, according to state officials.

The largest DUI enforcement effort in the Bay Area will take place Friday in Alameda County, where a strike team of 250 officers from various police departments and the California Highway Patrol and sheriff's deputies will hit the streets and highways of the county.

The campaign, called Avoid the 21, in reference to the 21 law enforcement teams making up the strike team, will send out DUI patrols throughout the county and will hold checkpoints in Alameda, Hayward, Newark, San Leandro and Union City.

Another large DUI team will be out when the Oakland Raiders host the Baltimore Ravens on Jan. 3, the last day of the 17-day enforcement period.

Last year, the Avoid the 21 campaign resulted in the arrest of 1,323 DUI suspects, the highest total in the 11-year history of the program and a 17 percent increase from 2007.

There will also be several sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrol periods in San Francisco, starting with a checkpoint in the city on Saturday.

San Francisco police will be conducting two other checkpoints on Dec. 27 and Jan. 3, as well as running DUI saturation patrols several times during the holidays.

There were 121 DUI suspects arrested in the city during a similar time period in 2008, but San Francisco police Lt. Jim Calonico said in a statement that the department hopes "that total will drop because people are too smart to drink and drive."

Sobriety checkpoints are also scheduled in San Mateo County during the crackdown period.

Burlingame police are getting a head start on the campaign by holding a checkpoint in their city today, while San Bruno police will conduct a checkpoint on Friday in the area of El Camino Real and San Bruno Avenue, and another checkpoint will be held in Belmont on Sunday.

Checkpoints are also scheduled on Dec. 26 in Menlo Park and Jan. 2 at another location in the county that has yet to be determined. Several saturation patrols will also be conducted between Friday and Jan. 3.

There are a couple checkpoints and many saturation patrols scheduled in Marin County as well.

A checkpoint will be held in San Rafael from 6 p.m. Friday to 2 a.m. Saturday, and a checkpoint in Novato is scheduled from 6 p.m. Jan. 2 to 2 a.m. on Jan. 3.

"Drunk driving is simply not worth the risk. Not only do you risk killing yourself or someone else, but the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest for impaired driving can be significant," Christopher Murphy, director of the state's Office of Traffic Safety, said in a statement.

"Violators often face jail time, the loss of their driver's license, higher insurance rates, attorney's fees, time away from work and dozens of other expenses. So don't take the chance. Remember, if you are at or over the limit, you are under arrest," Murphy said.

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