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CHP plans maximum enforcement over Labor Day holiday

The Labor Day weekend won't be a holiday for local California Highway Patrol officers who are working to keep area roads safe, CHP Capt. Steve Badilla said.

While 46 people died on California roads over the 2006 Labor Day weekend, no fatalities were reported in the Merced area. However, there were 21 accidents reported locally during the period and 25 people were arrested on drunken driving charges last year, Badilla said.

In the wake of a particularly tragic Fourth of July holiday when 18 people died in a 24-hour period, the CHP is redoubling its traffic safety efforts in hopes of ending the summer on a more positive note, Badilla said.

"If you are going to drink, don't get behind the wheel. It's that simple. If you see someone driving you suspect may be under the influence, call 911," he said.

Officer Shane Ferriera, public affairs officer for the Merced Area patrol office, said CHP Commissioner Mike Brown will patrol along Interstate 5 from Woodland to San Diego during the Maximum Enforcement Period. His commissioner counterparts in Oregon and Washington also will break out their ticket books about the same time.

Ferriera said up to 80 percent of the CHP's uniformed personnel will be on duty from 6 p.m. Friday through midnight Monday.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at 209-385-2485 or