During the recent 20-day holiday crackdown on drunken drivers, officers and deputies arrested 75 people in Merced County, authorities reported Tuesday.
The Avoid the 11 Task Force, comprised of 11 Merced County law enforcement agencies, conducted extra patrols and DUI checkpoints, in addition to routine patrols from Dec. 13, 2013, to Jan. 1, specifically targeting suspected drunken drivers, according to a task force news release.
Officials noted that statistics released during that time frame are preliminary and may be adjusted as reports are finalized.
The crackdown was part of an effort sponsored by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
DUI checkpoints, along with regularly scheduled high-visibility DUI enforcement, are proven strategies aimed at removing impaired drivers from the road and heightening awareness of the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, task force officials said.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, sobriety checkpoint programs can yield considerable cost savings.
Multiple anti-drunken-driving campaigns are planned in the coming months, officials said.
Law enforcement personnel will be conducting more anti-DUI operations throughout the region during Super Bowl Sunday in February and again for St. Patrick’s Day festivities in March.
The Merced Police Department in December 2013 received a $40,000 grant from the state traffic safety office to reduce injuries and deaths on city streets.
Police plan to use the money as part of an ongoing commitment to keep the streets safe through enforcement and education programs, the department said.
Traffic deaths in California declined by nearly 39 percent between 2006 and 2010, then rose by more than 2 percent in 2011.
Nearly 30 percent of traffic fatalities are the result of a drunken driver, police said.
Drunken drivers often face jail time, the loss of their driver’s licenses, higher insurance rates and dozens of other unanticipated expenses ranging from attorney fees, court costs, car towing and repairs to lost wages due to time off from work. Even worse, a drunken driver can cause a traffic crash that claims someone’s life, or their own, police said.
Authorities encourage people to report suspected drunken drivers as soon as possible by calling 911.