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Cops Target Drunk Drivers

By: Jim Knowles : 12/22/06

Don't drive if you're drinking because the warm glow of the holidays wears off pretty fast when they throw you in the slammer.

Cops throughout Alameda County are on the lookout for drunk drivers, now through the new year. It's time for the annual "Avoid the 21" campaign, a joint effort by 21 Alameda County law enforcement agencies.

Last Saturday night 180 police officers met for dinner in Castro Valley, then fanned out across the county to initiate "Avoid the 21."

"Everybody went out and did DUI enforcement all over the county," said Sgt. J.D. Nelson of the Alameda County Sheriff's Department.

The campaign had an effect because police made 242 DUI arrests over the weekend (Friday through Sunday). There were 86 arrests on Sunday alone, and a lot of those were made around the Coliseum after the Raiders game. And you thought another loss by the Silver & Black wasn't sobering enough.

"We did a saturation patrol after the Raiders game," Nelson said. "Up to 30 two-man units saturated Oakland around 880 and the streets surrounding the Coliseum."

During last year's winter campaign, police made 788 arrests for impaired driving. There was one fatality attributed to an impaired driver during that time.

This year the police teamed up with Mother's Against Drunk Driving, which helps teach the public about the dangers of driving under the influence.

The patrols by two-man teams seeking impaired drivers will continue through the new year, a time when people might get tipsy and try to drive.

"The next two weekends will be big," Nelson said.

"The goal," said Sgt. Marty Neideffer, "is to not have to go to anyone's house and tell them a family member has been killed."

Today, (Thursday) the Avoid the 21 teams will conduct sobriety checkpoints in Fremont. Friday the agencies will focus on Oakland, and on Saturday checkpoints will be set up in Union City.

The program is funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety and the National Traffic Safety Administration.

The state of California estimates that driving under the influence could cost a driver over $8,000. The cost includes several hundred dollars for vehicle towing and storage, booking and fingerprinting and driver's license reinstatement fee.

Then there's a $1,000 per year insurance increase, a first offense fine of $1,588, and a court assessment of $816. Add to that $550 for DUI classes and a few other charges, plus, if you hire a lawyer, $750 to $1,000 for an initial consultation.

With that in mind, a taxi fare isn't all that unreasonable.

Article courtesy of

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