"Avoid the 21" DUI crackdown launched

FRESNO, Calif.

California Highway Patrol Captain Sam Samra put it this way, "Impaired driving is not an accident. It's an epidemic of careless disregard for human life."

Drunk driving accidents have claimed the lives of nine people in Fresno County since the first of the year, and left 68 others seriously hurt. As part of the effort to fight that, Fresno County District Attorney Elizabeth Egan vows to throw the book at those charged with driving under the influence.

Egan said, "A DUI arrest may expose you to six months in jail on a first offense to 15 years to life for a repeat offender who kills someone."

Egan notes that her office has prosecuted nearly four thousand drunk drivers this year. In addition to jail time, fines can range from $5 to $10 thousand. But Samra notes despite the penalties and the warnings many will leave bars and drive drunk.

"It's shocking," Captain Sam Samra said. "It's shocking that we have so much education out there. So much coverage and education that people still choose to ignore."

And by ignoring all the warnings, they could possibly end up causing a tragedy.

The local effort to stop drunk drivers is called "Avoid the 21" for the 21 law enforcement agencies in Fresno and Madera counties taking part. This nationwide crackdown starts Friday night and runs through September 3rd.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.