Although no DUI-related traffic fatalities were reported in Orange County over the July 4 holiday weekend, the number of arrests at sobriety checkpoints was nearly double that of last year, authorities reported.
The Avoid the 38 DUI task force concluded its weekend with the completion of three sobriety checkpoints along with multiple DUI saturation patrols. From midnight Friday, July 1, through midnight Monday, July 4, officers representing 38 county law enforcement agencies arrested 211 people for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
In 2010, there were only 108 DUI arrests during the four-day holiday weekend.
Deputy Wayne Howard of the Orange County Sheriff's Department attributes the increase in arrests to an increase in grants given to law enforcement to apprehend drunk drivers.
More agencies are applying for the grants from the state Office of Traffic Safety, Howard said, and the money frees up officers to spend time on saturation patrols.
"Enforcement is getting more aggressive," Howard said. "It's just by the grace of God that we didn't have fatalities this year. Experts estimate we catch only 1 to 2 percent of the drunk drivers out there. That means 20,000 people were driving drunk in Orange County just over the four-day weekend. That's what truly scares me.
“We will continue to show zero tolerance, and anyone caught driving with a (blood alcohol content) of .08 or higher will be arrested,” Howard said.
Law enforcement officials will be conducting more Avoid Anti-DUI efforts throughout the county and region in partnership with the nationwide 18-day campaign in August ending Labor Day weekend.
Police, sheriff and the California Highway Patrol encourage all motorists to report impaired or dangerous drivers this summer by calling 9-1-1.