OAKDALE -- A recent DUI crackdown led to the arrests of 50 people across Stanislaus County on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and five more on suspicion of illegally hunting deer, authorities said.
Five men in a sports utility vehicle went through a checkpoint in Oakdale on Saturday night, said Janice Mackey, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Fish and Game. They hadn't been drinking, but they had something in the vehicle harder to hide than an open container of beer.
"We were conducting some nighttime surveillance in an undisclosed location," Mackey said. "We heard over the radio that the CHP had caught some folks with deer."
A warden headed to the checkpoint and interviewed the five men, whose names were not available Tuesday. They admitted to hunting the two deer in Tuolumne County without permission and without a license. One of the deer was a doe, which also is illegal, Mackey said. Authorities arrested the five on charges of using a spotlight to hunt, poaching, illegal method of take, hunting without a license and hunter trespassing.
"They got cited for a lot of stuff," Mackey said.
The case has been sent to the Tuolumne County district attorney's office for prosecution; if convicted, the men each could face up to a year in jail and $5,000 fines.
Regular deer season in Tuolumne County opens Sept. 12.
The poacher arrests were a nice perk, but the main point of the "Avoid the 12" summertime crackdown is to target drivers operating under the influence. The operation, named for the number of participating law enforcement agencies in Stanislaus County, will have another special operation over Labor Day weekend. Efforts include checkpoints such as the one in Oakdale, as well as saturation patrols, when officers converge on an area in search of impaired drivers.
The 50 arrests were made over a period of 10 days, according to Turlock police. During the same 10-day stretch last year, authorities arrested 74 people on DUI charges.
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2343.