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Stepped up holiday DUI enforcement starts

Starting today, Lathrop Police Services will be out in full force trying to prevent a tragedy by taking intoxicated drivers off of the road.

With the help of a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety that was made available by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the agency plans on saturating local roadways through Nov. 29 looking for signs of intoxicated motorists and those operating their vehicle in unsafe ways.

While the American Automobile Association (AAA) is predicting a 10 percent decline in the number of people traveling this holiday season because of health concerns, rising unemployment, and COVID restrictions – the largest expected decline since the start of The Great Recession in 2008 – millions of people are still expected to take to the roadways to travel and see family.

Lathrop Police Chief Ryan Biedermann just wants to make sure they do so safely.

“We want everyone to enjoy the holidays and be safe if they must travel,” Biedermann said. “Taking simple safety measures like driving sober, following the speed limit, and wearing a seat belt helps keep yourself and others safe.”

And officials want to remind people that “intoxicated” means more than just those that have had one too many to drink.

With the recreational legalization of marijuana and an ongoing battle with abuse of prescription medications officers will also looking for people under the influence of narcotics – a practice that is accounting for a rising number of injury accidents across the country.

Other unsafe practices like speeding, not wearing a seat belt, and driving distracted – using a cell phone or texting while behind the wheel – will also be a part of the ongoing operation.

And even though the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to keep more people at home, an alarming number of motorists still drove under the influence over the Fourth of July weekend – just weeks before the number of daily confirmed cases of the virus reached its peak.

According to the California Highway Patrol, 738 people were arrested for driving under the influence during a 54-hour window that included the Fourth of July holiday.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 10,000 people died in DUI-related crashes in California from 2003 through 2012, and in a poll conducted of drivers in the state 1.8 percent claimed that they had climbed behind the wheel after they had imbibed enough to be impaired in the last 30 days – just slightly under the national average of 1.9 percent of those that responded to the survey.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.