Holiday parties, holiday baking, holiday shopping — tis’ the season to overindulge.
Huntington Beach police are urging residents to resist another over-indulgent tendency common this time of year: holiday drinking.
Officers are gearing up for their holiday drunk driving enforcement this month by adding checkpoints and extra DUI patrols.
“These increased efforts help to keep our roadways safe for everyone during these times of togetherness,” said Sgt. Dave Dereszynski. “We want to remind people of the importance of being responsible and considerate of the friends and family members who are traveling with you, or near you.”
Although nationwide statistics point to more drunken drivers on the road and more alcohol-related crashes during the holidays, DUI Officer Doug Demetre said Huntington Beach has seen fewer alcohol-related incidents in recent years.
From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day in 2013, Huntington Beach had 35 alcohol-related crashes. In 2012, there were 56 during the same period.
So far this holiday season, there have been three alcohol-related crashes.
“In the last couple of years, it seems more people are being responsible,” Demetre said. “There’s a lot more education out there nowadays.”
In recent years, the Huntington Beach Police Department has launched a greater outreach effort through grant-funded DUI checkpoints and its Know Your Limit campaign. They are also incorporating the use of social media to share educational messages and inform the citizens what is going on in their community.
“The goal of our checkpoints is not to arrest people, but to educate them on the consequences of drinking and driving,” Demetre said. “A lot of the people I stop now have someone else driving, they’re taking a taxi or hiring an Uber”.
“But there are still those out there who haven’t gotten the message.”
HBPD will be out delivering that message at a checkpoint Friday night and through DUI saturation patrols scheduled for next week. There also is a DUI warrant operation planned for Sunday.
The department wants to remind drivers of these tips to keep the holidays safe and happy:
– Plan ahead. Designate a sober driver or plan to hire a taxi if you will be drinking at holiday parties.
– Stick to your plan. Make sure you’ve made a decision on how to get home safely before you start drinking. Do not wait until you are impaired to try and make a decision.
– One drink can impair your judgment and increase the risk of getting pulled over or causing a collision.
– The average DUI costs $10,000. It is much cheaper to pay the cab fare.
– If you see a suspected drunken driver on the road, call 911 immediately.
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration