The Memorial Day holiday coupled with graduations proves to be a time when many people celebrate with alcohol and then get behind the wheel.
Law enforcement is reminding everyone to make plans ahead of time to put a designated driver in place.
The Lake Elsinore, Moreno Valley and Perris, Palm Desert and Coachella Police Departments all plan to have DUI/drivers license checkpoints in addition to special DUI saturation patrols, officials reported.
The goal of these stepped up DUI patrols is to avert deadly drunk driving tragedies, Lake Elsinore Police Sgt. Marc Cloutier said.
“The summer months traditionally see a rise in DUI deaths and injuries,” said Chris Murphy, Director of the California Office of Traffic Safety. “Let’s turn this trend around in 2012.
Take measures to use a designated sober driver and call 9-1-1 to report a suspected drunk driver should you witness the tell-tale signs of impairment; such as weaving, crossing the center line, or a driver slow to start when the signal light turns green.”
The California Highway Patrol will also be deploying all available officers Memorial Day weekend onto freeways and county roads, including a checkpoint in French Valley.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving volunteers will be at some of the checkpoints to educate drivers on the importance of designated drivers.
“M.A.D.D. appreciates every opportunity to bring awareness about the dangers of drunk driving to the community,” M.A.D.D. spokesperson Brenda Frachiseur said. ”We support the efforts of law enforcement and believe the statistics speak for themselves. Drunk driving deaths were down 16 percent last year and we believe that is due in large part to DUI checkpoints.”
She added that M.A.D.D. encourages everyone to plan ahead as they begin their holiday celebrations.
“If you plan to drink, plan for a designated driver so your celebration does not turn into a tragedy,” Frachiseur emphasized.
Drivers caught driving impaired can expect jail, license suspension, and insurance increases, as well as fines, fees, DUI classes, and other expenses that can exceed $10,000, a Riverside County Sheriff’s press release stated.
Stephanie D. Schulte is a writer/photographer with SWRNN. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.