Fresno's Plan to Discourage Drunk Driving

KFSN The chief wants those who live in Fresno to not just change their ways. He hopes his enforcement changes the mindset of drivers throughout the Central Valley.

"Any alcohol to drink tonight? I did have a shot about two and a half hours ago."

One car at a time Fresno police are changing the mentality of drivers contemplating having a few of these and hitting the road.

Joshua Tobiasen, Fresno Resident: "It's not that I don't even bother going out anymore but I definitely do what I can to make sure that I'm not in the social norm. I got too many friends that have DUI'S and no license."

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer says much like the crackdown in 2004 on red light runners and speeders, now it's shifted to drunk drivers.

The first year of heavy traffic enforcement officers wrote more than 41 thousand tickets, the next year that number dropped to nearly 35 thousand and the year after that it tapered off to only 27 thousand.

Driving habits changed one ticket at a time.

Chief Jerry Dyer: "The strategies that we have today with DUI checkpoints and Barwatches are much like the strategies we've employed early on like using radar to catch speeders and several other strategies that we've developed to impact driving."

Fresno police figure it will take several years to change the culture in Fresno. Already some social drinkers say they are getting the message.

Carl Teissert, Fresno Resident: "Usually if I'm gonna go out I'll go to one of the bars that's in this area since I live in the neighborhood so then I don't have to worry about driving home drunk."

Statistics prove too many drivers are still not changing their habits 2007 ended with three thousand 75 DUI arrests for the year, way up from prior years.

"People really haven't gotten the message yet. They think that they either can drive intoxicated and not get caught or they think when they get behind the wheel they're not intoxicated. In either case, it's not just a bad decision, it's a violation of the law."

The chief believes dui arrests are climbing each year because of the strong enforcement, not necessarily because more people are drinking and driving.

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