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Manteca Police plans stepped up DUI patrols

Celebrating the upcoming holiday season is fine, just as long as you designate a driver while doing so.

That’s the message that the Manteca Police Department put out this week in the lead-up to the Christmas and New Year’s Eve holidays – two distinct holidays where DUI arrests often increase with the consumption of alcohol and other intoxicating substances.

“When it comes to consuming drug and/or alcohol and driving, there is a right and wrong choice,” Manteca Police Operations Lieutenant Paul Carmona said. “Make the right choice by not driving impaired so everyone is able to enjoy the holidays.”

While campaigns looking to stamp out drunk driving used to be prevalent in the lead-up to holidays and long weekends when alcohol use traditionally increased, the legalization of recreational cannabis and the availability of other illicit drugs has prompted agencies like the Manteca Police to adapt their message to include anything that impairs the ability of a driver to safely operate a vehicle.

In order to ensure that everybody is able to enjoy the holidays safely, the Manteca Police Department is going to have additional officers on patrol looking for drivers that may be under the influence between now and the first day of 2022 – funding the overtime necessary to implement the saturation patrols through a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety.

That agency – which funds saturation patrols, DUI checkpoints, and other safe-driving measures throughout the year – is administered through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

According to the National Safety Council, the number of alcohol-related fatalities has been trending downward since 1985 – spurred, no doubt, by the awareness campaigns that law enforcement and government agencies have been pushing over the course of the last three decades.

But the statistics for alcohol-related fatalities are still sobering.

In 2019, alcohol-involved fatal accidents accounted for 28 percent of the total fatalities on America’s roadways, and 38 percent of the fatalities over the Christmas holiday involved somebody being under the influence of alcohol.

The year prior, according to the NHTSA, there were 285 drunk-driving related fatalities between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, and that year roughly one-third – totaling 10,511 people – were killed in accidents where at least one driver was found to be under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicating substance.

And more Americans are expected to be traveling this year – both by plane and by car – than they did in 2020.

According to the American Automobile Association, 109 million Americans – roughly one-third of the country – are expected to travel over the long Christmas and New Year’s week. That number is close to the 119 million travelers that were seen before the pandemic shut down travel and drastically altered the way Americans spend their holidays.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.