County law enforcement and highway patrol agencies concluded their holiday DUI crackdown this week, resulting in fewer arrests compared to last year.
Police arrested 153 individuals during the 17-day campaign, which is a 37 percent decrease from the 239 arrests last year. Authorities from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dept., Santa Barbara County Highway Patrol and several other city police departments utilized sobriety checkpoints and an increase in patrol units on freeways and streets.
[media-credit name=”Rad Sechrist / DAILY NEXUS FILE ILLUSTRATION” align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]According to Jan Ford, public information officer for Santa Barbara County’s Avoid the 12 law enforcement program, the decrease in arrests can be attributed to poor weather, better planning and responsible driving.
“…We think that the bad weather and the lousy economy kept people home and throwing smaller parties,” Ford said. “Another one of the main reasons we believe there were less arrests are because people are getting smarter and getting more designated drivers or driving stone cold sober themselves every time.”
The CHP made the majority of arrests during the campaign with a total of 74 suspects. Santa Barbara’s Police Dept. made 29 arrests, the Sheriff’s Dept. made 20 arrests and other agencies made eight or fewer.
Ford said the majority of the incidents occurred away from the county’s sobriety checkpoints.
“More than 90 percent of DUI arrests happened on the streets and not at DUI check points,” Ford said. “Most of the arrests are made with officers stopping cars on streets and freeways rather than at checkpoints.”
Despite the low number of arrests made at the checkpoints, Ford said they serve as an important incentive to keep intoxicated drivers off the streets.
“That is always the way it is,” Ford said. “Checkpoints are really great for education, they are a really great deterrent effect. But we get more numbers from street patrols.”
The Avoid the 12 DUI crackdown program is scheduling a similar one-day crackdown on Feb. 6 for Super Bowl Sunday.