CHP: Nearly 2,000 DUI arrests in past 10 years at North Lake Tahoe | SierraSun.com

CHP: Nearly 2,000 DUI arrests in past 10 years at North Lake Tahoe

Margaret Moran
mmoran@sierrasun.com

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — While celebrating the Fourth of July this weekend, authorities are encouraging everyone to follow safe and responsible practices when it comes to consuming alcohol.

During the past five Independence Day holiday periods of July 3-6, the California Highway Patrol made 33 DUI arrests in the North Tahoe region — six last year, 10 in 2013, eight in 2012, four in 2011, and five in 2010.

Of the arrests, 20 were visitors and 13 locals, according to the highway patrol.

"DUI is one of those things that is completely preventable," said Pete Mann, CHP-Truckee public information officer. "The CHP isn't saying don't go out and have a great weekend. All we are asking is that if you do go out, and you do have a few alcoholic beverages, just make the smart decision to get home safely."

CHP, which provides traffic enforcement on state routes such as highways 28, 89 and 267 in the North Tahoe-Truckee region, will have every available officer working this weekend to ensure safety, Mann said.

The same is true for the Truckee Police Department and Tahoe portion of the Placer County Sheriff's Office, officials said this week.

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While no DUI checkpoints are planned, DUI saturation patrols will be the norm all weekend, said PCSO Lt. Fred Guitron.

"Be very aware of bicycle and pedestrian traffic throughout Truckee and drive cautiously to prevent an accident with a pedestrian or bicyclist who might have over consumed," added TPD Chief Adam McGill. "If you see any potentially dangerous situations, do not hesitate to call the police for assistance."

VISITORS THE TREND?

Over the past 10 years (2005-14), CHP has made 1,980 misdemeanor DUI arrests in the North Lake Tahoe portion of Placer County. Of that, 1,295 were not considered locals, according to CHP.

"When you think Tahoe is annually attracting … millions (of) visitors, those numbers aren't so scary," Mann said during an alcohol- and drug-prevention presentation last month at North Tahoe High School. "… Knowing that the difference between local residents and non-local residents was a huge eye opener to me. You're seeing over two-thirds of them are not from this area."

Further, CHP made 122 misdemeanor DUI arrests for those under 21 from 2005-14 — 74 were not local residents.

"Even with that, we're still talking about a million (North Shore) visitors (annually), so even our visitors are really behaving themselves and really making this a family location to come and stay and have a great time," said Melinda Maehler, community service officer for Placer County. " … So I really have to extend an appreciation toward our visitors also."

During the same 10-year period, PCSO made 617 Tahoe-area DUI arrests, 482 of which were turned over to CHP due to traffic law enforcement being its expertise.

Of the total arrests, 331 were Tahoe residents, and 285 were visitors, according to the PCSO.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Truckee, the town's police department made 160 DUI arrests in 2014, 69 percent of which were Truckee residents, McGill said.

This is up from previous years, with 107 arrests in 2013, 106 in 2012, and 118 in 2011. For those arrests, a residency breakdown was not available.

While McGill said he couldn't definitively explain why DUI figures increased last year, possible reasons include the improved economy — providing people more funds to make purchases and travel — and recent warm weather, and thus more opportunity to be outside and partake in activities.

He added that officers are not specifically targeting drunken drivers.

By the numbers

DUI arrests made by California Highway Patrol in the North Lake Tahoe portion of Placer County from 2005 to 2014:

1,980: Misdemeanor DUI arrests

122: Under 21 misdemeanor DUI arrests

21: Felony DUI arrests

2: Under 21 felony DUI arrests

Source: CHP