During Memorial Day weekend, which has traditionally signaled the start of summer, law enforcement wants to reduce driving while under the influence of alcohol and other substances, according to Sgt. Rick Sung of the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office.
"It may seem like we're just after arrests," Sung said. "As long as we keep down the fatalities, that's what we want."
The "Avoid the 13" campaign will involve all on-duty patrol officers and overtime patrols paid for with a grant from the State Office of Traffic Safety.
"We really step up the enforcement," said officer Kory Seely from the San Jose CHP division. "Everyone's available."
Through the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department, three cities will use grant money this weekend to focus enforcement. The will be among those that put overtime money to use to nab drunken drivers, Sung added.
"We do have officers working overtime for the Avoid [the 13] campaign for Memorial Day weekend," said Liz Wylie, spokeswoman for the MVPD. "We have two officers working overtime, which means they will be solely focusing on looking for DUIs and not handling any other calls for service unless an emergency requires it. That said, all of our officers will be focusing on DUIs this long weekend."
According to Wylie, through the end of April, the MVPD had made 131 DUI arrests compared with 149 in 2010, which is a decrease of 12 percent from last year.
The contract cities of Los Altos Hills, Cupertino and Saratoga will also have more officers on the road using overtime grant money. All other communities generally participate with regular staffing and heightened attention to signs of drunken driving, Sung explained.
The sheriff's department and its partners recommended the following steps for a safe Memorial Day weekend:
- Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin. Before drinking, designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home.
- If you happen to see a drunken driver on the road, don’t hesitate to call 911.
- If you know someone who is about to drive while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they need to go safely.
In 2010, the sheriff's department ended its Friday-to-Monday DUI campaign with 146 arrests, plus four DUI-related arrests. It had six DUI-related crashes that resulted in five injuries, but no fatalities.
Editor's Note: Story updated with quote and statistic from MVPD at 12:15 p.m.