DUIs focus of holiday enforcement | TahoeDailyTribune.com

DUIs focus of holiday enforcement

Tahoe Daily Tribune Staff Reports

By William Ferchland

Tribune staff writer

Those who take their holiday cheer behind a wheel could quickly catch the eye of authorities who are looking for drunken drivers.

The California Highway Patrol issued overtime for its officers to help in the national “You Drink and Drive You Lose” campaign.

David Manning, regional administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said the consequences of driving impaired are serious.

“Violators will lose their licenses, lose time away from their jobs and lose money in fines and court costs … Refuse a blood-alcohol concentration test and you will lose your license on the spot and have your car impounded,” Manning said. “You’ll be spending money on bail and towing fees instead of holiday gifts.”

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South Lake Tahoe Police Department is part of the campaign. The department is putting more officers on patrol to help find drunken drivers, said Sgt. Brian Williams.

“There is a noticeable increase in (driving under the influence) incidences during the holidays,” he said.

In the past few days dispatch records stated at least three arrests for drunken driving for every 24-hour block of time.

Numbers will likely go up when the young crowd floods South Shore for the New Year’s Eve celebration next week.

Authorities in El Dorado County will have the use of a new device called the Evidentiary Portable Alcohol System that allows accurate blood-alcohol percentage.

SLTPD received about 10 of them, Williams said.

“More than 2,000 people were killed in alcohol-related traffic fatalities between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day in 2001,” said California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who praised the new device.

Those found guilty of more than one drunken driving charge can serve time in prison. El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Jerald Lasarow made several repeat offenders follow the case of Jesse Whitworth, who pleaded no contest to manslaughter after hitting a teenager who was on her way to school.

– E-mail William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com.