Fresno police report increase in DUI arrests

FRESNO, Calif.

Fresno police say DUI enforcement and checkpoints are key when it comes to keeping the streets safe.

The Fresno Police Department says seven of the city's 14 fatal car crashes this year have involved an impaired driver. Captain Andy Hall heads the department's traffic bureau.

"DUI crashes are down significantly, over 30 percent since we started our DUI enforcement program in 2002, so we know it works and it's frustrating to know that people still drink and drive," Capt. Andy Hall of the Fresno Police Department said.

The DUI enforcement campaigns continue with federal and state dollars. While crashes may be down, arrests are still up.

Captain Hall says that's significant because he now has a smaller staff in the traffic bureau.

"Every day of the week we have traffic officers that go out and search for DUIs," Hall said.

Hall says part of the DUI problem in Fresno is based on geography.

"We have bars spread all over. To get from one bar to another you either have to have a designated driver or pay for a taxi. A lot of people choose not to do that. They make the choice to drink and drive. And that's part of the frustration that we have," Hall said.

Another more difficult part is investigating fatal crashes like the one that killed seven-year-old Donovan Maldonado in Northeast Fresno last month.

Police say the man behind the wheel of that crash Loren LeBeau had a .11 blood alcohol level. People are declared legally drunk in California with a .08.

Hall says this high profile crash still did not stop DUI drivers.

"The weekend after young Donovan was killed we still arrested 21 drivers that weekend. It's so difficult and frustrating to try to make sense of that," Hall said.

DUI enforcement continues tonight with checkpoints on Fresno streets.

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