CHP urges motorists not to drink and drive

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We're only three weeks into 2018 and already California Highway Patrol officers tell us they have surpassed last years number of deadly DUI related crashes. (KFSN)

We're only three weeks into 2018 and already California Highway Patrol officers tell us they have surpassed last years number of deadly DUI related crashes.

A deadly start to the year, in Kings County, has California Highway Patrol officers urging drivers to be smart before hitting the road.

"Last year in Kings County we responded to 62 separate DUI collisions," John Tyler of the California Highway Patrol said. "This year barely started and we've already handled three separate fatals, all involving DUIs."

Those crashes killed four people, injuring 40 more. Two of those crashes killed children, the latest north of Lemoore.
Related: Toddler identified who was killed after DUI crash in Lemoore

CHP investigators say just after 1 a.m. Sunday morning, 50-year-old Rodney Klamerus smashed into the backside of a car that turned onto Highway 41 from Hanford Armona Road.

1-year-old Liliana Valencia was secured in her car seat in the back.

"The leading cause of fatal collisions, not just here in Kings County, but in the Valley is driving under the influence."

Klemarus faces several felony DUI charges should he survive.

The legalization of marijuana has also raised concern throughout the department.

"We know based on Colorado and Washington, based on what they experienced it would be naive of us to not expect to see the same rates of increases of people driving under the influences of marijuana," Tyler said.

They have increased the number of officers trained for detecting drug impairment.

"There's more than enough resources out there so no one has to drink and drive."

At this point, CHP is bracing for Super Bowl weekend. They say they are increasing enforcement in anticipation of more DUI drivers on the road.
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