MODESTO — During a 19-day maximum enforcement period to combat drunken driving, 131 people were arrested by a dozen local law enforcement agencies.
The arrests were made from Dec. 14 to Tuesday and are up from the 118 arrests made during the same period last year, according to Ceres police Sgt. Chris Perry.
A grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, paid for officer overtime to conduct saturation patrols and DUI checkpoints during the nearly three-week stretch that included Christmas and New Year's Eve. The grant money is managed this year by the Ceres Police Department.
One of the DUI drivers in Oakdale led police on a short chase until he was boxed in at an intersection with heavy traffic.
Around the same time in Oakdale, a man who had been drinking was struck by a car and killed. Police don't know if the driver had been drinking, as well, because he or she fled the scene and has not been located.
On New Year's Eve, three people from Fairfield and a person from Tracy were killed in a head-on collision on Highway 12 near the San Joaquin-Sacramento county line. The California Highway Patrol is investigating whether the drivers were under the influence at the time of the crash.
Statewide, the CHP arrested 1,405 people on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the maximum enforcement period. Nineteen motorists died during that time, the CHP reported.
Law enforcement officials will conduct more DUI operations throughout the county and region during Super Bowl Sunday in February and for St. Patrick's Day festivities in March.
DUI checkpoints, along with regularly scheduled high-visibility DUI enforcement, are proven strategies to awareness of the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, Perry said.
"While it is unfortunate that the number of DUI arrests increased as compared to the enforcement campaign period last year, it is clear that law enforcement officers throughout Stanislaus County took this issue very seriously and performed in stellar fashion," said Ceres Police Chief Art de Werk.
"The last thing we want in this county is to be seen as being indifferent to the problem of DUI drivers and the threats they pose to everyone," he said.