Police beef up DUI enforcement during holidays
Repeat offenders to be among those targeted during the next few weeks
By DAN JOHNSON,
Published: Friday, December 11, 2009 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 5:10 p.m.
As DUI arrests continue to rise locally and statewide, the Petaluma Police Department is planning additional enforcement activities during the next few weeks.
“Each year, we try to raise the standards for DUI enforcement, but the arrests continue to climb,” said Sgt. Ken Savano. “I like to think that the increase in arrests is due to increased enforcement, but I also think that more drunk people are driving.”
The Petaluma Police Department serves as the lead agency for the Avoid the 13 Sonoma County DUI Task Force. Members from Petaluma and other cities will perform stakeouts, as well as probation and warrant checks, of repeat DUI offenders on Dec. 19. Also, a DUI checkpoint will be set up at an undisclosed Petaluma location on Dec. 25.
During the winter holiday period, law-enforcement agencies throughout the state enhance their efforts to catch DUI drivers. The statewide Winter Holiday Mobilization Period will run from Dec. 16 through Jan. 3. Petaluma officers made 58 DUI arrests during the 2007-2008 mobilization period, and 65 during the 2008-2009 period.
This year (through Tuesday), Petaluma police have made 559 DUI arrests, compared with 517 during all of last year.
Last weekend, Petaluma police arrested nine drivers during an eight-hour DUI and driver’s license checkpoint operation. A checkpoint was set up at Washington Street and Gray Street from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, and then a DUI saturation patrol began in which patrol officers searched for DUI drivers until 2 a.m. on Sunday, Savano said.
Officers arrested four drivers for DUI, two for driving without a license, one for driving with a suspended license and two for drug offenses. Five vehicles were towed, and one is being held for 30 days because it was being driven by a driver who has a suspended license.
At the checkpoint, 1,018 vehicles passed through and 657 drivers were screened for DUI. They directed 17 drivers into a nearby parking area for further screening, and seven were given alcohol screening. Officers on DUI patrol stopped 56 drivers, for several different violations, and found that six of them were driving with alcohol in their system.
During the hours of the operation, officers also arrested two Rohnert Park residents — Andrew Skanderson, 22, and Vincent Antone, 24 — walking on a street because they were so intoxicated that they were unable to care for their own safety. They were booked into Sonoma County Jail, Savano said.
“The purpose of these operations was to inform the motoring public of the dangers associated with DUI and to take enforcement action against impaired drivers,” Savano said.
Funding for the operations are provided by the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Participating agencies in the Sonoma County DUI Task Force are the city police departments from Clover-dale, Cotati, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Sonoma and Windsor; Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department; Sonoma County Probation Department; Sonoma State University Police Depart-ment; Santa Rosa Junior College Police Department; California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control; Mothers Against Drunk Driving; and California Highway Patrol.