If the photo above is shocking, good. It was intended to be.

The driver could have been you.

If you drive drunk or high — or both this holiday weekend and are arrested or worse, do not say you weren’t warned. The Palm Springs Police Department has given  you one of the greatest gifts of the season — its concern for your safety. The department has on numerous occasions warned the public they it will be out in force monitoring the streets and highways for drivers under the influence.

champagneThis New Year’s weekend, the Palm Springs Police Department is partnering with police, sheriffs and the California Highway Patrol across the state to stop impaired drivers and help save lives. While alcohol-impaired driving remains the most serious problem on our roadways, the percentage of drivers in fatal crashes with other impairing substances in their system keeps rising.  Faced with more instances of DUID – Driving Under the Influence of Drugs – state and local officials are reiterating the message that “DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze.” The message takes on increased importance with the state set to begin licensing commercial non-medical marijuana sales on Jan. 1, 2018, under provisions of Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act.

“It has taken more than 35 years to convince the vast majority of the public that driving under the influence of alcohol is dangerous, illegal and socially unacceptable,” Rhonda Craft, Director of the Office of Traffic Safety said in a prepared release. “With more dying on our roadways every day, we can’t afford to take that long when it comes to driving under the influence of prescription medications, marijuana, illicit drugs and even some over-the-counter medications.”

The Cathedral City Police Department has also announced that it is stepping up enforcement efforts.

In the ten years from 2005-2015, the percentage of drivers in fatal crashes with an impairing drug other than alcohol in their system has risen from 26.2 percent to 42.6 percent.  As far back as 2012, a roadside survey in California showed more drivers 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.

In addition to marijuana, a driver could be subject to a DUI arrest if they are under the influence of prescription medications like sleep aids, tranquilizers, barbiturates, opiates and other pain killers, anti-depressants, and even over-the-counter allergy or cough medications.

It’s not just the embarrassment of the arrest, the possible damage to your reputation, the potential loss of life and limb, but also the financial toll it could take. The true cost of a DUI in California is an estimated $45,435 — for a first-time offense, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

In the face of more drug-impaired drivers on the road, police, sheriff and CHP are training more officers in Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) and Drug Recognition Evaluation (DRE). The advanced training augments the Standardized Field Sobriety Test to help identify what substances other than alcohol a driver may be impaired by and how seriously they are impaired.

During December, the Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) ran public awareness announcements concerning prescription medication DUI.  Starting December 27 and running through much of January, the emphasis of the “DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze” campaign switches to one that points out that no matter your age or circumstance, and no matter your reasons for consuming marijuana, you should never drive while high.

Authorities encourage revelers to plan your sober ride home before the party begins this holiday weekend. Drivers are encouraged to download the Designated Driver VIP, or “DDVIP,” free mobile app for Android or iPhone.  The DDVIP app helps find nearby bars and restaurants that feature free incentives for the designated sober driver, from free non-alcoholic drinks to free appetizers and more.  The app has social media tie-ins and even a tab for the non-DD to call Uber, Lyft or Curb.