An emphasis on stopping drunken driving will be a priority for local law enforcement agencies through the end of the year.
Law enforcement agencies in Merced County are taking part in the "Avoid the 11" campaign. Los Banos, Merced, Atwater, Livingston and Gustine are among the cities taking part in the effort, which includes DUI checkpoints, saturation patrols and other missions aimed at reducing driving under the influence.
The Los Banos Police Department will be conducting a DUI/drivers license checkpoint on Dec. 29 between 6 p.m. and 1 a.m. Motorists caught driving impaired can expect jail, license suspension and insurance increases, as well as fines, fees, DUI classes and other expenses that can exceed $10,000, according to law enforcement.
"From 2009 to 2011, Los Banos experienced 32 injuries to many of our friends and neighbors as a result of DUI- related collisions," Cmdr. Ray Reyna Jr. said.
The Los Banos Police Department recently received a $20,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, which pays for many of the drunken-driving suppression efforts.
"We applied for this grant as a way to fund more enforcement activities and assist in our on-going efforts to keep our roadways safe," Reyna said.
Officers will be checking drivers passing through the checkpoint for signs of alcohol and/or drug impairment. Officers will also check drivers for proper licensing and will strive to delay motorists only momentarily, police said. When possible, specially trained officers will be available to evaluate those suspected of drug-impaired driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, checkpoints have provided the most effective documented results of any of the DUI enforcement strategies, while also yielding cost savings of $6 for every $1 spent.