43 killed in California during four days at Christmas | January 4, 2008 | Danville Express | DanvilleSanRamon.com |


Danville Express

Community Pulse - January 4, 2008

43 killed in California during four days at Christmas

71 percent of fatalities were not wearing seatbelts

by Natalie O'Neill

A count taken in the four days leading up to Christmas shows 1, 661 arrests for driving under the influence were made by the California Highway Patrol.

During that time, 43 people were killed in drunken driving accidents, 71 percent of whom were not wearing seatbelts.

"It's hard. You get people indulging that don't normally," said Jamie Coffee, spokeswoman for the CHP.

No fatalities occurred in Danville during the time period but one Danville resident was arrested for driving intoxicated near Camino Tassajara in Blackhawk, said Officer Steve Creel, spokesman for Dublin's CHP office.

The figures were taken from Dec. 21-25, during a heightened patrol period, in which 80 percent of uniformed personnel were on the road, looking for impaired drivers on the highways and unincorporated areas of California.

California is divided into eight regions and, of those, the Bay Area had 253 arrests - the third highest in the state. Los Angeles County was the highest, with 354 arrests.

The best way to avoid drinking and driving is to make transportation arrangements before you go out - before the first drink, Coffee said.

People are less likely to drive intoxicated if they set up a designated driver, plan to stay the night, or call for a taxi home ahead of time, she explained.

Other time periods where heightened CHP are used to control intoxicated drivers include Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July and New Year's Eve.

"We're not telling people not to have a good time. Just plan ahead," Coffee said.


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