Local law enforcement made an unusually high number of DUI arrests at a police checkpoint on campus on Sept. 25.
Officers arrested eight out of 400 drivers that passed through the checkpoint. This surpassed the previous record of seven arrests out of 1000 cars set on St. Patrick’s Day.
Drew Sugars, public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, said while the spike in DUIs is disconcerting, the arrests demonstrate the effectiveness of the checkpoints.
“On one hand, it is very alarming when so many impaired drivers are on the road,” Sugars said. “But at the same time, it means there are fewer dangerous drivers out there.”
Jan Ford, public information officer for the Avoid the 12 campaign — a program from the sheriff’s department geared towards DUI prevention — said the high number of arrests can be partially attributed to the increase in weekend festivities from returning students.
“During the few days before school starts, a lot of people think ‘party time’,” Ford said.
According to Ford, Avoid the 12 is a yearly campaign that advocates for people to appoint a designated driver on every night of drinking.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Deputy Win Smith said the new, aggressive checkpoint strategy is also responsible for the high number of DUI arrests.
“We introduced a much more aggressive statewide campaign, including more checkpoints, more speed tests and more seatbelt verification tests,” Smith said.
According to The California Office of Traffic Safety, Santa Barbara County ranks 16th out of 58 for alcohol related collisions, while the city of Santa Barbara ranked even higher at third out of 103 comparable cities in California. There were 565 total DUI arrests made, representing 1.04 percent of the city’s population. The statewide average remains at 0.9 percent, placing Santa Barbara slightly above the average.
Both Ford and Sugars confirmed that the SBPD and Avoid the 12 will redouble their efforts during Halloween weekend, allocating nearly all of their patrol force to Isla Vista for maximum security enforcement. Last year’s Halloween saw nearly 25,000 visitors throughout the weekend.