CHP ramps up patrol around New Year's Eve

Heavy enforcement period runs through Jan. 1
By: Jon Schultz, Journal Staff Writer
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Starting at 6 p.m. today, the California Highway Patrol will roll out a maximum enforcement period lasting through New Year’s Day in a continued effort to ensure safe driving over the holidays.

The Auburn CHP office will put 80 percent of its available workforce out on the roads, monitoring for everything from drunken driving to seat belts, said Cpt. Joe Whiteford. Auburn CHP will have about 10 officers out patrolling during the period.

Along with emphasizing the importance of designating a sober driver if a person is going to be drinking alcohol, Whiteford said it always stands out to him how many people neglect to wear their seatbelt and ultimately pay the price.

“I just want to make sure they remained buckled up,” Whiteford said. “The reason for that is every year, every maximum enforcement period, I read the statistics, and at least half of the people killed in auto accidents aren’t wearing a seatbelt.”

During the CHP’s heightened enforcement from Dec. 21-25, Whiteford said 22 vehicle occupants were killed, and 12 of them were not wearing a seatbelt – compared to 14 collision deaths and half the victims not wearing seatbelts the year prior.

In that same Christmas period, this year 1,170 arrests were made for driving under the influence, up from 980 the year before, he said.

The enhanced patrol around Christmas this year lasted a day longer, so that is factored into the reported statistics, Whiteford said.

“The winter holidays can pose some of the toughest challenges for our officers,” CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said in a statement. “Inclement weather, holiday celebrations, and drivers in a hurry to get to their destination can make for a deadly combination. We want you to enjoy the season and remember that safety is a crucial element.”

Young adults, males and people driving at night are among those at greatest risk of being in a collision with an alcohol-impaired driver, according to the CHP.

The CHP asks motorists to call 911 to report a suspected drunken driver and be prepared to provide the vehicle’s description, its location and direction of travel.

“Now is the time of year when celebrations increase, as well as the chance of encountering an impaired driver,” Farrow said. “One way to keep everyone safe and reduce the odds of spending the holidays in jail is to designate a nondrinking driver in advance.

“Your life may depend on it.”

The maximum enforcement period ends at 11:59 p.m. Jan. 1.



Jon Schultz can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Jon_AJNews