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December 31, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, December 31, 2004

Arrests for DUI on the rise Arrests for DUI on the rise (December 31, 2004)

More officers on patrol for New Year's

By Jon Wiener

A local crackdown on drunk drivers has nabbed twice as many offenders as last year.

Through Sunday at midnight, law enforcement officers in Mountain View had arrested 50 people for driving under the influence during the first ten days of the annual Avoid the 13 campaign. Eight of the arrests came on Christmas Day alone. Last year, only 24 arrests were made during the same period.

Furthermore, arrests countywide had increased 30 percent, according to California Highway Patrol officer Stephen Perea.

"I think they're (drunk drivers) just not getting the message, unfortunately," said Perea.

Avoid the 13 is part of a Bay Area-wide program to reduce drunk driving. It includes increased patrols during holidays, checkpoints on local streets and electronic messages on freeway signs.

"We hate sounding like broken records," said Perea. "But we have reason to sound repetitive, because we see the death and destruction it causes."

Forty-two collisions throughout the Bay Area were attributed to drunk driving, leaving four people dead. But Perea said that even when no one is injured, driving under the influence can have serious consequences for one's family and career.

Penalties for first-time offenders can include fines of up to $2,000 plus additional court costs, probation and suspended driving privileges, according to Mountain View police spokesperson Josef Kachman. A second offense means jail time.

"If you do drink or use substances and you do drive, we are out there looking for you this holiday season," Kachman said.

The city of Mountain View has been participating in Avoid the 13 since it began with 13 law enforcement agencies in 1974. The name the department has given this year's campaign is "designate or incarcerate," according to Kachman. The campaign is running from Dec. 17 to Jan. 2.

Although Mountain View police will not stage any sobriety checkpoints on New Year's Eve, there will be more officers on patrol that evening.

E-mail Jon Wiener at [email protected]

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