PALM SPRINGS — Notice to all holiday revelers: Palm Springs police will be out in force monitoring for drunken drivers. Being forewarned is a gift.
The Palm Springs Police Department Traffic Unit will be conducting a DUI/Drivers License Checkpoint on Dec. 14 at an undisclosed location within the city limits between the hours of 9 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.
In recent years, California has seen a disturbing increase in drug-impaired driving crashes. The Palm Springs Police Dept. supports the new effort from the Office of Traffic Safety that aims to educate all drivers that “DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze.” 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 drunken driving arrest.
The deterrent effect of High Visibility Enforcement using both DUI checkpoints and DUI Saturation Patrols has proven to lower the number of persons killed and injured in alcohol or drug impaired crashes. Research shows that crashes involving an impaired or drunken driver can be reduced by up to 20 percent when well-publicized proactive DUI operations are conducted routinely.
DUI Checkpoints like this one are placed in locations based on collision statistics and frequency of DUI arrests, affording the greatest opportunity for achieving drunken and drugged driving deterrence. Locations are chosen with safety considerations for the officers and the public.
In California, alcohol involved collisions led to 1,155 deaths and nearly 24,000 serious injuries in 2014 because someone failed to designate a sober driver. Over the course of the past three years Palm Springs PD officers have investigated 345 drunken driving collisions which have claimed 11 lives and resulted in another 114 injuries.
Officers will be looking for signs of alcohol and/or drug impairment, with officers checking drivers for proper licensing, delaying motorists only momentarily. When possible, specially trained officers will be available to evaluate those suspected of drug-impaired driving, which now accounts for a growing number of impaired driving crashes. Everyone should be mindful that if you’re taking medication – whether prescription or over-the-counter – drinking even small amounts of alcohol can greatly intensify the impairment affects.
Studies of California drivers have shown that 30 percent of drivers in fatal crashes had one or more drugs in their systems. A study of active drivers showed more tested positive for drugs that may impair driving (14 percent) than did for alcohol (7.3 percent). Of the drugs, marijuana was most prevalent, at 7.4 percent, slightly more than alcohol.
Palm Springs PD offers these reminders to ensure you have a safe night of fun that doesn’t involve a DUI:
- Decide before you go out whether you plan to drink or drive. You can’t do both.
- If you plan to drink, designate a sober driver before going out or map out another safe way to get home by taxi, ride-share or public transportation. You can also look up designated driver services in your area using the National Directory of Designated Driver Services (NDDDS).
- See your friend or other patron impaired trying to get behind the wheel? Take the keys and help them make other arrangements to get where they are going safely.
- Report drunken drivers – Call 911.
- People are encouraged to be a part of the designated driver very important person (“DDVIP”) program. As a DDVIP, you can ensure those drinking get home safely and get rewarded for it. Partnering bars and restaurants statewide have created non-alcoholic specialty drinks (“Drinks”) for sober drivers.
Recording Artists Against Drunk Driving (RADD) also offers a Designated Driver Rewards program at 43 college campuses statewide. Local bars and restaurants provide non-alcoholic drinks and/or food specials to DD’s.
Getting home safely is cheap, but getting a DUI is not! Drivers caught driving impaired and charged with DUI can expect the impact of a DUI arrest to be upwards of $13,500. This includes fines, fees, DUI classes, license suspension and other expenses not to mention possible jail time.
Funding for this checkpoint is provided to the Palm Springs Police Department by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.