Holiday DUI arrests, deaths up

Los Banos area had no fatals, fewer wrecks, says the CHP

By Corey Pride / Cpride@losbanosenterprise.comJanuary 3, 2013 

California's Highways were more dangerous over the long New Year's Day weekend this year, but remained about the same locally, according to the state highway patrol.

The California Highway Partol had 80 percent of its officers on the road from 6 p.m. Dec. 28 to 11:59 p.m. Jan. 1.

CHP spokeswoman Jaime Coffee said that statewide there were 41 deaths compared with 25 during the previous New Year's Day period. She said this past weekend 1,405 DUI arrests were made, up from 1,270 a year prior.

Coffee said half of the fatalities involved people not wearing their seatbelts.

"I don't get it, wearing your seatbelt has been the law for decades. For me, it's just automatic," Coffee said.

She said although there was an extra day during the New Year's maximum enforcement period compared to 2011-12, she still considers the fatality and DUI arrest numbers high.

"It's a shame someone has to spend their New Year's in jail. Hopefully, the people who got arrested will think twice about drunk driving next time. A $40 cab ride is less expensive than $1,000 in lawyer fees," she said.

Officer Matt Pinheiro, spokesman for the CHP Los Banos office, said he was encouraged that there were no fatalities in his coverage area during the local two-day maximum enforcement period encompassing Monday and Tuesday.

During the 2011-12 new year's holiday period, his office recorded one death on the highways. Pinheiro said his officers handed out 45 citations, arrested two people for DUI and responded to two accidents. Pinheiro said last year there were four DUI arrests and four accidents.

"It was successful this year from the side of collisions being down and having no fatalities," Pinheiro said.

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