In an 18-day campaign to crackdown on drunk driving over the holidays, the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Dept. reported that more than 100 people were arrested for driving while under the influence.
Jan Ford, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Dept., said there were 123 DUI arrests in the county between December 15 and midnight on New Year’s Day. While no deaths related to drunk driving were reported, Deputy Win Smith said there were 19 alcohol-related injury crashes during the period.
Ford said the extensive efforts to curb drinking and driving included a number of roadblocks and an increased number of officers on duty throughout the month.
“The campaign included four cooperative checkpoints for sobriety and proper driver’s licenses, a multi-officer New Year’s Eve strike force, in-city DUI patrols, maximum freeway saturation by three area commands of the California Highway Patrol,” Ford said.
Among the alcohol-related injury crashes was one caused by Marcos Calzad-Cuevas, an unlicensed 18-year old driver from Santa Barbara. Calzad-Cuevas hit another car while driving in the wrong direction on Highway 101, said CHP spokesman Don Clotworthy.
While driving south on the northbound 101, Cuevas crashed his 1989 Honda Accord into 51-year-old Mareva Munier’s 2001 Mercedes Benz, Clotworthy said. Cuevas was transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for cuts, abrasions and contusions. While at the hospital, Cuevas was arrested by CHP officers for felony DUI, Clotworthy said.
“Mr. Cuevas was cleared by medical personnel for release where he was then transported to the Santa Barbara County Jail and booked on the felony DUI charge,” Clotworthy said. “Additionally, Mr. Cuevas faces charges of being an unlicensed driver.”
In related news, the CHP will enforce a few new laws this year including one that makes it illegal for minors to drive under the influence of any amount of alcohol. Clotworthy said if a minor registers a blood alcohol content of less than .01, which previously was not a chargeable offense, they will still be guilty of driving while intoxicated.
“[The law is] California’s version of a true, zero-tolerance law for underage drinking and driving,” he said.
Additionally, it is now illegal for a driver to allow anyone to ride in the trunk of a vehicle, Clotworthy said. Officers will charge a $100 fine for any person found in the trunk of a moving car or truck.
Drivers, however, have another year and six months to go before the ban on the use of handheld cell phones while driving goes into effect. Passed by the State Legislature and signed by the governor last year, the law goes into effect July 1, 2008.