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Countywide DUI crackdown to start Friday

The Sonoma County DUI Task Force will be joining a nationwide crackdown on impaired driving from Friday, Aug. 19 through Sept. 5.

During the campaign, "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over," the 13 county law-enforcement agencies, led by the Petaluma Police Department, will conduct DUI and driver's license checkpoints and deploy roving DUI patrols.

"All too often, innocent, law-abiding people suffer tragic consequences and the loss of loved ones due to this careless regard of human life," said Petaluma police Chief Dan Fish. "Because we're committed to ending the carnage, we're intensifying enforcement during the crackdown.

"Since twice as many alcohol-impaired accidents occur over the weekend and four times as many occur at night, we will be especially vigilant during these high-risk times, when impaired drivers are most likely to be on our roads."

Violators will face jail time, loss of their driver's licenses, be sentenced to use ignition interlock devices and their insurance rates will go up, said Petaluma police Sgt. Ken Savano, who coordinates the task force, dubbed Avoid the 13. Other financial hits for violators include attorney fees, court costs, lost time at work and the potential loss of job or job prospects, he said.

"Our message is simple and unwavering: If we find you driving impaired, we will arrest you. No exceptions," Fish said. "Even if you beat the odds and manage to walk away from an impaired-driving crash alive, the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest for driving while impaired can destroy your life."

In 2009, 10,839 people died in crashes in which a driver or motorcycle rider was at or above the legal limit, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The 21-to-24 age group had the highest percentage of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities.


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