Hail a cab, request an Uber or pester a sober friend for a ride, but do not attempt to drive a car after drinking on this New Year’s holiday weekend.
That’s the message from local police agencies as they prepare for their annual “maximum enforcement period,” which this year begins about 6 p.m. Friday and continues until just before midnight Monday.
All available CHP officers will be on duty looking for impaired and distracted drivers, speeders and other lawbreakers, while Santa Rosa police on Friday will set up checkpoints at an undisclosed location and put out extra officers all weekend.
“With all of the options out there, there is no reason to get behind the wheel impaired,” CHP officer Jon Sloat said Wednesday.
Santa Rosa’s drunken-driving and license checkpoint will be in effect from 7 p.m. Friday to 2:30 a.m. Saturday.
The location will be chosen based on the frequency of past crashes and impaired driving arrests, Sgt. Summer Black said.
Nearly 800 drivers were screened in last year’s checkpoint on Stony Point Road, Black said. Three were arrested on drunken-driving charges, eight for license suspensions and 19 for driving with no license at all, she said.
Research shows that crashes involving an impaired driver can be reduced by up to 20 percent when well-publicized DUI checkpoints and patrols are conducted.
“We’re not out there simply to catch DUI-drivers and those without licenses,” “Black said. “It’s also about education and safety.”
Not only is getting a drunken-driving ticket expensive — with fines, fees and classes the price can exceed $15,000 — but it also can be deadly.
During the New Year’s holiday in 2015, 27 people died on California roadways. More than 920 people were arrested for driving under the influence over a 78-hour period.
In Sonoma County, CHP officers arrested 13 people for drunken driving, including one motorist involved in a crash, Sloat said.
From 2012 to 2014, Santa Rosa police investigated 174 drunken-driving crashes resulting in 244 injuries and one death.
“It’s not worth taking the risk,” Black said.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 40 percent of traffic-related deaths during the December holidays involve drunk drivers, a 12 percent increase over the rest of the month.
For those who agree to be designated drivers, your reward awaits.
The California Office of Traffic Safety has an app that lets sober drivers register and win free nonalcoholic drinks at participating bars and restaurants.
Download Designated Driver VIP on any iOS or Android phone to find a map of participating nearby establishments.
Also through the app, those who want to imbibe can order a ride from Uber, Lyft or Curb, all from one screen.