WATSONVILLE — The Watsonville Police Department is in the midst of an enforcement campaign aimed at stopping drunk and drug-impaired drivers.

Through Sept. 3, WPD is participating in the statewide “Drive Sober of Get Pulled Over” campaign, increasing the number of officers on the road to stop suspected drunk or drug-impaired drivers and motorcyclists.

The enforcement campaign runs through the Labor Day holiday weekend, which is one of the deadliest times of year in terms of alcohol-involved traffic deaths. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 10,497 people were killed in alcohol-involved crashes in 2016, or one person every 50 minutes.

“It’s up to drivers to make the smart decision and drive sober not just for this enforcement period, but every day,” said Watsonville Police Capt. David Rodriguez. “This isn’t about ticketing. This is a campaign to get the message out that driving impaired is illegal and takes lives.”

Police officers will show zero tolerance for impaired driving or riding and joins efforts by the California Office of Traffic Safety to educate drivers that “DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze.” If you take prescription drugs, particularly those with a driving or operating machinery warning label, you may be impaired enough to get a DUI. Marijuana can also be impairing and result in a DUI, especially in combination with alcohol or other drugs.

From 2005-2015, the percentage of drivers in fatal crashes with an impairing drug other than alcohol in their system has risen from 26.2 percent to 42.6 percent, according to NHTSA.

To avoid a DUI and putting others, and yourself, at risk, WPD has a few tips to stay safe on the roads:

• Always designate a sober driver.

• Use public transportation or a ride sharing service to get home.

• Have a friend or family member who is about to drive buzzed or impaired? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get them home safely.

• Report drunk drivers – call 911.

Funding for this DUI operation is provided to the Watsonville Police Department by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In addition, on Friday, officers conducted a DUI/driver license checkpoint on Freedom Boulevard, from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m.   

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