Westminster police will launch a targeted effort to find and arrest intoxicated drivers as part of an 18-day national crackdown on drunken driving.
Officers from Aug. 21 through Sept. 7 will be participating in the national campaign Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over — a partnership with the California Office of Traffic Safety.
In addition to added enforcement, Westminster PD will also be conducting a sobriety checkpoint on Labor Day weekend.
“Law enforcement partners in Orange County, across the state and nationwide will show zero tolerance for drunk driving,” said Westminster Sgt. Eddie Esqueda. “Increased state and national messaging about the dangers of driving drunk, coupled with checkpoints and increased officers on the road, aim to drastically reduce the toll of drunk driving.”
Esqueda cited the most recent national statistics that show in 2013 more than 10,000 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes, which accounts for about one-third of all traffic collisions.
Over Labor Day weekend that same year, 38 percent of traffic crash fatalities were attributed to alcohol, Esqueda said.
Illegal drugs and prescription medication also play a role in many tragic collisions.
Esqueda reported that about 30 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes nationwide had one or more drugs in their system.
Most of the drivers were found to have been impaired by marijuana, but in some cases prescription medication contributed to the collision.
“Everyone should be mindful that if you’re taking medication – whether prescription or over-the-counter — drinking even small amounts of alcohol can greatly intensify the impairment effects,” Esqueda said.
Westminster police encourage residents to plan ahead if their Labor Day activities will include alcohol.
The California Office of Traffic Safety has a mobile app that offers incentives for designated drivers at local restaurants and bars.
With the prevalence of taxis and companies such as Uber, Lyft and Curb — finding a sober ride home is more convenient than ever, Esqueda added.
“There’s no excuse for drunk or impaired driving,” he said. “If you choose to break the law, police, sheriff and CHP officials will see you before you see them.”