13 suspected drunk SCV drivers over New Years

The California Highway Patrol runs a sobriety checkpoint on The Old Road in August 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Arrest records indicate the slightest of declines in reported DUI numbers for Santa Clarita Valley drivers over the New Year’s weekend.

Just over a dozen drivers were arrested on suspicion of impaired driving this past New Years weekend — 11 arrests made by the California Highway Patrol and two by the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.

“I would like to think that people are getting the message,” Shirley Miller, spokeswoman for the SCV Sheriff’s Station told The Signal Tuesday, reflecting on a slightly lower number of arrests this year over last.

At the end of the same New Years weekend a year ago, 14 arrests were made — nine by the CHP and five by the SCV Sheriff’s Station.

The local numbers stand in sharp contrast to the CHP’s statewide statistics, which show a 22 percent increase in the number of people statewide arrested this year for DUI compared to last year.

At least 29 people died in California in collisions throughout the state over the New Year’s weekend a year ago, according to the CHP.

“(The SCV) had no fatalities this year,” CHP Officer Eric Preissman said, reflecting on the number of arrests made in a 78-hour period ending at midnight Monday Jan. 1, 2018.

CHP officers braced themselves for motorists driving under the influence, issuing a notice after Christmas that they would be cracking down on suspects over the New Year’s weekend.

The notice reported a “Maximum Enforcement Period,” or MEP, from 6:01 p.m. on Friday, December 29, 2017, to 11:59 p.m. on Monday, January 1, 2018.

“All available personnel will be on duty. Not only will officers focus on keeping the motoring public safe by removing impaired drivers from the road, they will also be watching for distracted driving, speeding, and seat belt violations, as well as motorists in need of assistance,” the notice read. “During last year’s New Year’s Day MEP, 29 people died in collisions on California roadways. In addition, CHP officers made more than 750 arrests for driving under the influence during the 78-hour holiday enforcement effort.”

During this year’s New Year’s Day MEP, the CHP made at least 936 arrests,  an increase of 22 percent compared arrests made a year ago.

“Impaired driving is a very serious crime that puts your life and the lives of others at risk,” said in the MEP notice.

“Let’s end this year safely and start the New Year by designating a sober driver, wearing your seat belt, and observing all traffic laws,” he said.

CHP Acting Commissioner Warren Stanley Stanley pointed out that in 2016, voters passed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, more commonly referred to as Proposition 64, which legalized adult recreational use of cannabis.

“The legalization of cannabis does not change the effect it has on the central nervous system. Driving under the influence of cannabis and other drugs remains illegal,” added Acting Commissioner Stanley.

The CHP urges everyone to plan a safe ride home before the parties begin. Calling a taxi or a sober friend or family member, using public transportation or the increasingly popular ride-sharing services can be the difference between life or death.

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