Fresno's Crackdown on Drunk Drivers

December 29, 2008 11:15:08 PM PST
As of Friday the CHP made half as many arrests across the state for driving under the influence, compared to last year. But the number of arrests this year in Fresno -- is up.This is the beginning of a long week for traffic officers. It's only Monday but 12 officers are working this checkpoint and 15 more are just driving around the city looking for drunk drivers.

In less than a half hour officer Joe Ploharz stopped six drivers for traffic violations. The initial infraction is secondary ... His primary assignment for the night is to seek out impaired drivers.

Fresno Police Officer Joe Ploharz said "With the large night time traffic unit we have, just the overwhelming patrols and assists all the special units we have are just looking for drunk drivers, you aren't gonna get away in Fresno."

During tough economic times, it's no secret many people try to drown their troubles. According to stock analysts overall alcohol consumption increased 1.5 percent in 2008. Beer and wine consumption is up 2 percent.

Fresno Police can't say for sure why they are making more arrests whether it's more officers on the streets or more people simply drinking and getting behind the wheel.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said, "I don't know if our officers are experiencing more people out on our roadways intoxicated as a result of our economy and increased sales in alcohol, but I do know that the number of arrests are up."

In 2007, 3211 people were arrested for driving under the influence and 2008 estimates are expected to be just over 3300.

A statewide push on freeways and highways continues to encourage motorists to call in drunk drivers. But despite the education campaign, Police Chief Jerry Dyer says it's clear many do not see drinking and driving as a crime.

"They simply see it as a bad decision. But we know that it is a crime and that crime often times lends to someone being seriously injured or killed," said Dyer.

Fresno Police say officers on saturation patrol looking for DUI offenders had good success rates.

This year ... DUI checkpoints also averaged 15 arrests a night.

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