DUI DRAGNET: Truckee DUI arrests are rising despite enforcement efforts by local police
With pre-publicized checkpoints, more traffic-safety education and increased enforcement, Truckee Police officials say they are perplexed by the ongoing problem of drunk drivers in the Truckee community.
“With all the information going out to the community, it confounds me why people still drink and drive,” said Truckee Police Sgt. Ted Bier while patrolling the 40,000-square-mile jurisdiction on Friday evening.
In 2007, the Truckee Police Department made 157 drunk driving arrests ” almost 50 more than in 2005, according to department statistics.
Since establishing the department in 2001, a main goal of the agency has been to significantly reduce the rates of impaired drivers by providing education in local schools, increasing patrol staff, offering ride-along opportunities and even supplying Truckee bars with napkins that are inscribed with drunk driving costs and statistics, Bier said.
“Truckee may be more liberal with social drinking and we see no problem with that, but people need to take responsibility by not getting behind the wheel after they’ve had some drinks,” Bier said.
Over the past several months, the department has expanded efforts and methods to target drunk drivers thanks to a $315,000 grant awarded by the California Office of Traffic Safety.
But with 58 arrests already made this year, the problem may not dwindle as quickly as law enforcement would like.
“There’s always going to be somebody who drinks too much and jumps in their car thinking they can make it home,” Bier said.
He said it’s not just law enforcement officials trying to combat the problem.
Community members and transportation agencies are working to keep drunk drivers off the road as well.
“It’s not just us pulling people over, it’s people in the community calling us and saying ‘there’s this car swerving in front of me, can you check it out,'” Bier said.
In addition, taxi services have been expanded and a new designated driver business is being offered for the North Lake Tahoe-Truckee area.
The service ” We Drive Your Ride ” provides an alternative in transportation by offering to pick customers up and drive their cars home, said owner Lacy Grevious.
“It seems one reason people get in their cars and drive home after drinking is they have to get up for work in the morning,” Grevious said. “We’re hoping this will help the DUI problem by giving people the option to get their cars home safely without having to worry about driving.”
“Our main goal is to just get DUI drivers off the road,” Grevious added.
As the summer approaches, Truckee Police will begin the tourist season with a DUI checkpoint on Friday June 13, said Sgt. Jason Litchie.
“Every summer, folks come to Truckee to enjoy our mild temperatures. With this traffic increase, our alcohol-involved collisions also go up,” Litchie said. “All summer, we will be out in force making sure drunk drivers are off the road.”