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Nine local law enforcement agencies are launching a special “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” crackdown to stop impaired drivers and to save lives over the holidays.

The Napa County DUI Avoid the 9 Task Force will be aggressively looking for impaired drivers, officials said.

Enforcement efforts will include one DUI/drivers license checkpoint, 10 local DUI saturation patrols, a multi-agency DUI taskforce strike team patrol and a DUI warrant/probations sweep.  

The California Highway Patrol will deploy all available officers during two maximum enforcement periods — Christmas and New Years weekends.

“Lots of folks will be out during this busy holiday season, enjoying themselves and the holiday festivities, and we want everyone to be safe on our roadways.” Napa  Police Sgt. Brian Campagna said in a news release.

“That's why we will be stepping up enforcement to catch and arrest impaired drivers. Please be forewarned. If you are caught driving impaired, you will be arrested. No warnings. No excuses.”

During 2010, more than 10,000 people were killed nationwide in motor vehicle traffic crashes involving an impaired driver, and in California 791 people died on the state's streets and highways. One person was killed in Napa County that year.

The holiday season is a particularly dangerous time, police say. During December 2010, 30 percent of all fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crash involved alcohol-impaired drivers. Data also shows that among those alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities, 71 percent occurred when drivers had nearly twice the legal limit blood alcohol concentration of .15 percent blood-alcohol or higher.  

“No one ever thinks that their holiday celebration will end in jail, or worse, in a hospital or the morgue,” said Campagna, “But for those who include alcohol in their celebrations and then get behind the wheel, this is too often the case.”   

Violators face jail time, loss of driver license, and steep financial consequences such as higher insurance rates, attorney fees, court costs, lost time at work, and the potential loss of a job.

The Avoid the 9 Coalition recommends:

•  Plan ahead. If you will be drinking, do not plan on driving. Designate a sober driver or find another safe way home.

• If you are impaired, find another way home. Use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member or public transportation.

• Be responsible. If someone you know is drinking, do not let them get behind the wheel. If you see what appears to be an impaired driver on the road, call 911.  

The national Driver Sober or Get Pulled Over crackdown is led by the California Office of Traffic Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, with funding from the Office of Traffic Safety.

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