Putting the brakes on impared driving | SierraSun.com

Putting the brakes on impared driving

Ryan Salm/Sierra SunCHP and Truckee police man a sobriety check point last summer in Truckee.

Driving has inherent risk, but holiday driving magnifies that danger.

With increased traffic and more people celebrating with alcohol during this time of the year, numerous agencies will crackdown on drunken driving. And they are asking for the public’s help.

Drunk driving is the top priority for the California Highway Patrol, said CHP Commissioner Mike Brown in a statement outlining the agency’s plans for the holidays.

“Other motorists on the roads are one of the best weapons we have against drunk drivers,” Brown said.

The statewide effort will send more officers out patrolling and running sobriety checkpoints, said Chris Cochran, spokesperson for the Office of Traffic Safety. Both Placer and Nevada counties are included in the 35-county enforcement.

Times and locations of the efforts will be determined within the jurisdiction, Cochran said. He said he couldn’t report when and where North Tahoe and Truckee residents will be most affected by the crackdown.

Officers are trying to keep roads safe during increased holiday traffic, said Truckee-based CHP Officer Steve Skeen. And grant funding helps with maximum enforcement efforts.

The Office of Traffic Safety will pay for the department’s overtime and other holiday costs, Skeen said. Agencies such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving have also awarded grants.

Recently, the Office of Traffic Safety distributed $3.7 million in sobriety checkpoint grants to agencies throughout the state.

Additionally, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control budgeted $3 million in grant funding for the budget year July 2006 to June 2007 to battle alcohol-related crimes, subsidizing programs such as decoy operations and sobriety checkpoints.

The department awarded $27,504 to the Truckee Police Department and $100,000 to the South Lake Tahoe Police for the budget year. And the Office of Traffic Safety gave $13,800 to Nevada County Sheriff’s Office and $20,000 to Placer County Sheriff’s Office for minor decoy grant funding.

The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is increasing its enforcement efforts and continues to visit liquor-licensed restaurants and bars in the area, said spokesperson John Carr.

Carr said he could not provide details on the precise timing of any operations in the North Tahoe and Truckee area.

“We will visit,” Carr said. “And we want compliance.”

Almost 20 people were killed in Nevada and Placer counties in alcohol-related car crashes last year. And more than 2,500 arrests were made for alleged driving under the influence. Because more people may celebrate the holidays with alcohol, and there is greater traffic, authorities recommend alternative transportation such as designated drivers and taxi cabs for those who have been drinking.

“If you’re having a party, make sure your participants come and go safely,” Skeen said.

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