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Police record 132 DUI arrests during holiday season

From mid-December until after New Year's Day, increased enforcement resulted in 132 arrests for drunken driving in Merced County, officers said.

Merced police Officer Jeff Christen sen, spokesman for the "Avoid the 11" campaign involving all of the county's law enforcement agencies, said there were no drunk driving-related fatalities reported between Dec. 14 and Jan. 2.

Merced police officers arrested 29 people for drunken driving and California Highway Patrol officers at Atwater and Los Banos offices apprehended another 72 tipsy motorists.

The Avoid the 11 Merced County campaign is composed of 11 law enforcement agencies in Merced that are specifically dedicated to combating driving under the influence.

Christensen said the law enforcement agencies are partnered at various times of the year in a cooperative effort to combat drinking and driving. "Avoid The 11" is part of the "National Campaign: Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest." The next cooperative effort involving local agencies will be during the Memorial Day holiday.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety. Extra funding paid for checkpoints, saturation patrols and officer overtime to catch drunk drivers.

Other DUI arrest totals included Los Banos, 15 arrests; Livingston, five arrests; Atwater, three arrests; Gustine and Dos Palos police departments, three arrests each; UC Merced, one arrest and Merced County, one arrest, Christensen said.

The program is called Avoid the 11 as motorists can "avoid" being arrested by not drinking and driving.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger

can be reached at 209 385-2485 or