Agencies Ramp Up Holiday Enforcement

Every year enforcement agencies gear up for holiday driving as if preparing for battle. And the 2017 holiday season is no exception.

Enforcement agencies across the country have announced holiday plans for increased patrollers and driving checkpoints.

“DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols are more intense this time of year because crashes, DUIs and fatalities increase around major holidays,” said Chris Cochran, of the California Office of Traffic Safety. “We want people to arrange for safe travel if they are going to get intoxicated.”

DUI checkpoints are a major part of the enforcement effort. These randomly placed checkpoints enable officers to observe drivers for signs of intoxication.

Routine checkpoints can cut alcohol-related fatal crashes by 20 percent, according for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

“We like the DUI checkpoints because they are a highly visual deterrent,” Cochran said. “We want people to see them and be aware of them.”

Saturation patrols--specialized forces tasked with driving around looking for impaired drivers--will be a constant as well, police said.

Agencies have broadened their mission in recent years to focus on levels of impairment besides alcohol. There are fewer DUI arrests and alcohol-related crashes than a decade ago, but that doesn’t mean drivers have sobered up, Cochran said.

“As alcohol-impaired driving has been going down for 10 or 15 years, we’re seeing an uptick in the use of drugs behind the wheel,” he said.

Not all states operate their DUI enforcement initiatives the same way, Cochran said. However, days on and around major holidays are a safe bet that more police will be on alert.

“These checkpoints and patrols happen all year long, but they are definitely more common around holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s,” Cochran said.

Cochran and the National Safety Council offered the following advice and background about impaired driving:

  • Consider the cost. Between court costs, getting a vehicle out of impound and other administrative fees, the average cost of a DUI conviction is $10,000.
  • Impairment comes in all forms. Drivers abusing prescription medicine, narcotics or other illicit substances are at-risk of a DUI arrest.
  • Plan ahead. Designate a driver. Call a cab. Use a ridesharing service. Find a place to spend the night.
  • Make sure every person in the vehicle buckles up--no matter how long or short the drive.