Officers conduct DUI warrant sweep in Alameda Co.

December 28, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Police tried to serve hundreds of arrest warrants throughout Alameda County on Wednesday. Those who thought they could get away without paying a penalty for their drunk driving convictions got a wake-up call.

Many of those who were arrested on Wednesday will end up at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. Officers from Alameda County's 21 police agencies didn't end up arresting many people for outstanding DUI warrants, but it's not because they didn't try.

More than 50 officers from every law enforcement agency in Alameda County went visiting on Wednesday, but they weren't social visits. In hand were arrest warrants -- about 500 of them that the officers tried to serve throughout the county.

Many people weren't home, but officers found one woman at work at a Safeway in Livermore -- an embarrassing moment for her, but one police say she could have easily avoided.

"Her warrant is a no-cite no-bail, which means she has to go to court," said Traci Rebiejo with the Livermore Police Department. "We can't give her a citation."

"They got caught doing DUI," said Livermore Police Sgt. John Hurd. "For whatever reason, there's a warrant. They didn't show up in court. They didn't pay their fines. They didn't go to (Alcoholics Anonymous). They didn't go to DUI school. They didn't do something the judge wanted them to do so there's been a warrant issued."

The sweep was part of the "Avoid the 21" campaign financed by federal grant money.

The most visible part of the campaign is the DUI checkpoints that pop up all over the Bay Area during the holiday season. Hurd says DUI arrests are already mounting.

"Over the last 12 days, we've made over 500 arrests countywide," Hurd said. "Enforcement is out there, the education's is out there, the public awareness (is) out there and the warrant sweep is out there as well."

The officers average more than 800 DUI arrests countywide each year during the holidays. The net they cast through Alameda County on Wednesday didn't catch a lot of the offenders.

An arrest warrant was issued for one man's wife, who was not at home.

"She's not here," the man said when officers asked to speak with his wife.

Police say that even though the person is not home, they do get the message.

"We're going to knock on 20 doors," said Hurd. "Maybe we will find two or three people at home. At the same time, we are leaving that message with a family member, leaving a note on the door, neighbors or whatever saying hey, the cops were here."

The amount of people arrested under the warrant operation wasn't immediately known. Police have one reminder though: As of Jan. 1, a person with a third DUI arrest could end up losing their license for up to 10 years.