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DUI patrols, checkpoints planned for Memorial Day weekend in San Diego County

SAN DIEGO – Law enforcement agencies across San Diego County are planning to crack down on drunken driving over the three-day Memorial Day weekend.

In Chula Vista, police officials will deploy extra officers between 6 p.m. Friday and 2 a.m. Saturday and again from 6 p.m. Saturday to 2 a.m. Sunday, the department said in a statement. The officers will be put on “DUI Saturation Patrols to stop and arrest drivers showing signs of alcohol or drug impairment … in areas with a history of DUI crashes and arrests.”

San Diego police are planning an overnight drunken driving and driver’s license checkpoint somewhere in the city over the weekend, Officer Mark McCullough said.

“DUI Checkpoints like this one are placed in locations based on collision statistics and frequency of DUI arrests, affording the greatest opportunity for achieving drunk and drugged driving deterrence,” McCullough said. “Locations are chosen with safety considerations for the officers and the public.”

Police publicize drunken driving checkpoints ahead of time in hopes that it will deter impaired drivers.

“Research shows that crashes involving an impaired driver can be reduced by up to 20 percent when well-publicized, proactive DUI operations are conducted routinely,” McCullough said.

San Diego police typically conduct several such checkpoints each month. But emphasis is placed on the long holiday weekend and the roughly 100 mostly summer days between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend, when instances of impaired driving rise dramatically.

According to Chula Vista police, 16 people were killed and another 385 injured in alcohol-related crashes over Memorial Day weekend 2016. San Diego police said they’ve investigated nearly 2,400 drunken-driving crashes over the past three years on surface streets in the city. Those crashes have resulted in at least 19 people killed and more than 2,250 injured.

But “DUI doesn’t just mean booze,” police warned while echoing a campaign by the California Office of Traffic Safety.

“In recent years, California has seen a disturbing increase in drug- impaired driving crashes,” McCullough said. “If you take prescription drugs, particularly those with a driving or operating machinery warning on the label, you might be impaired enough to get a DUI. Marijuana can also be impairing, especially in combination with alcohol or other drugs, and can result in a DUI.”

Monday marks the first Memorial Day in California since recreational marijuana became legal.

The increased enforcement efforts by both San Diego and Chula Vista police will be funded by grants from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.