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DUI deaths down as local enforcement is up

Police, designated drivers gear up for dangerous New Year's Eve
By: Jon Brines,Placer Herald Correspondent
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The number of California deaths blamed on drunken driving fell last year to its lowest level since record-keeping began. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 791 people died in California in driving-while-intoxicated crashes last year, down from 950 the year before. While the annual count of DUI deaths had increased from 1998 to 2005, the count has decreased since 2005. That year is symbolic for the Rocklin Police Department, who lost one of their own to a DUI driver. In October of 2005, Rocklin Officer Matt Redding was on duty when he was struck and killed by a vehicle driven by an intoxicated driver. Redding’s family started a foundation to fund scholarships in his name to high school students. The state Office of Traffic Safety says a record number of DUI checkpoints last year helped catch and deter drunken drivers. Rocklin police contributed to the effort, participating in seven Placer County DUI checkpoints, including one in Rocklin. So far this year, Rocklin’s DUI arrests are up 9 percent over last year. “It appears that the efforts of the state and local governments is paying off with the decrease in DUI deaths.” Rocklin Police Lt. Lon Milka said. The Center for Disease Control has predicted that more than 1,200 will die and 25,000 will be injured in alcohol related crashes during the holiday season. With two new officers filling vacant positions, the Rocklin Police Department is gearing up for this weekend’s holiday activities. “New officers are given refresher training on the standard field sobriety tests during their first 40 hours at the department,” Milka said. “When in the field training, new Rocklin officers are teamed up with an experienced officer well-versed in DUI enforcement.” In anticipation of the holiday weekend, the Roseville-based Driver Please service has hired additional drivers. The service provides qualified, screened, insured drivers to drive potentially impaired drivers home in their own cars, according the company. “It is important for people to realize they have options. It’s fine to go out and celebrate with family and friends, but the responsible thing to do is plan ahead,” Driver Please founder Mike Dumke said. “If you’re going to drink, think about how you and your group are going to get around.” Visit www.DriverPlease.com or call 1-877-687-3748 for more information. The 9th Annual Run Rocklin event to benefit the Matt Redding Memorial Scholarship Foundation is scheduled for April 15. For more information log onto their website at: www.runrocklin.com