Valley officers on DUI patrols

FRESNO, Calif.

Police say DUI checkpoints make a huge impact on public safety, especially on a night of celebration like the New Year holiday.

"The most effective stop at a DUI checkpoint is one that is somebody that has not been drinking," said Fresno Police Sgt. Anthony Dewall. "They see that just how close they could have been caught drinking, had they been stopped and arrested."

In Fresno alone nearly 400 people were injured in a DUI crash between 2010 and 2012. And 24 people lost their lives.

"We have a lot of innocent people who die behind the stupidity of other people," said Enrique Reade, a local funeral director.

Reade is a volunteer with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. His day job as a funeral director led him to place a casket along Blackstone Avenue in Central Fresno Tuesday night. The reminder of our mortality set alongside a wrecked Honda.

"There's a chain reaction when you lose somebody," Reade said. "Not only do you take somebody's life, the family has to deal with it. It gets pretty ugly."

According to Fresno police, drunk drivers killed 774 people in California in 2011. Two of those killed that year are Keith Smith and Jessica Mathes. Clovis police say they died when a DUI driver ran a red light and broadsided their car.

Clovis traffic officer Richard Ashcraft responded to that crash. "In the process of trying to deal with this horrific act that's happened, the back of your mind is playing out how preventable this was," Ashcraft said.

151 people in just the last 18 days have been arrested for DUI in Fresno and Madera counties. Officers just hope all of these reminders send a clear message to never drink and drive.

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