■ By Mary Ann Morris / Editor
A weekend checkpoint conducted by the San Jacinto Police Department’s Traffic Unit screened 1,415 vehicles and made 10 arrests for DUI and other criminal charges. Four people were arrested for alcohol-related DUI, one person was arrested for DUI/drug impairment, and five more were arrested for various criminal charges. Thirty-five people were cited or arrested for operating a vehicle without a license or while the license was suspended or revoked.
The DUI/Driver License checkpoint was conducted at State Street and Sagecrest Drive in San Jacinto from 6 p. m. to 2 a. m. on May 20. Checkpoints are strategically placed in locations that have the greatest opportunity for achieving drunk and drugged driving deterrence and provide the greatest safety for officers and the public, said Sgt. Robert Himmelberg of the San Jacinto Police Department.
In recent years, California has experienced a disturbing increase in drug-impaired driving crashes, said Himmelberg. The San Jacinto Police Department supports the new effort from the Office of Traffic Safety that aims to educate all drivers that “DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze.” Prescription drugs, particularly those with a driving or operating machinery warning on the label, can qualify you for a DUI. Marijuana can also cause impairment, especially in combination with alcohol or other drugs, and can result in a DUI.
Studies of California drivers have shown that 30 percent of drivers in fatal crashes had one or more drugs in their systems. A study of active drivers showed more tested positive for drugs that may impair driving (14 percent) than did for alcohol (7.3 percent). Of the drugs, marijuana was most prevalent, at 7.4 percent, slightly more than alcohol.
Drivers are encouraged to download the California Office of Traffic Safety DDVIP (Designated Driver VIP) free mobile app for Android or iPhone. The DDVIP app helps find nearby bars and restaurants that feature free incentives for the designated sober driver, from free non-alcoholic drinks to free appetizers and more. The app even has social media tie-ins and even a tab to call Uber, Lyft or Curb.
Drivers caught driving impaired can expect the impact of a DUI arrest to include jail time, fines, fees, DUI classes, license suspension and other expenses that can exceed $10,000 not to mention the embarrassment when friends and family find out.
In California, alcohol-involved collisions led to 1,155 deaths and nearly 24,000 serious injuries in 2014 because someone failed to designate a sober driver. Over the past three years, San Jacinto Police officers have investigated 89 DUI collisions, which have killed two people and resulted in another 31 injuries.