DUI Checkpoints Catch Drunken New Year's Drivers

POSTED: 07:28 AM PST Dec 30, 2011    UPDATED: 10:55 AM PST Dec 31, 2011 

Local law enforcement agencies issued a stiff warning to drivers Friday by adding more patrols onto the roads to ensure a safe New Years.

Riverside County sheriff's deputies held driving under the influence checkpoints in Palm Desert and Coachella at undisclosed locations Friday, which aside from getting drunk drivers off the roads, was used to to inform the public about the dangers of driving impaired.

"Always have a designated driver," said Sam Plonski, a Cathedral City resident.

Plonski hasn't had a drink in three decades, and said he isn't going to start on New Year's Eve.

"I've seen a lot of terrible things happen on crazy nights," said Plonski.

Plonski and his wife, Dawn, shared a meal at Roc's Firehouse Grill in Palm Desert before heading to San Diego to ring in 2012.

"(You) just (have to) watch out and be defensive when you're driving," said Dawn Brenner Plonski.

The California Highway Patrol and other agencies are in a period of maximum enforcement through Monday morning.

All available officers will be on the road to track impaired drivers down.

"You'll see us out there," said Lt. Matt Martello, with the Sheriff's Department.

Plus, the Walter Clark Legal Group is once again sponsoring free cab rides that start on New Year's Eve at 8 p.m. and go through 2 a.m. on New Year's day.

The taxi companies participating are Airport Taxi, Yellow Cab of the Desert and American Cab.

"Every call that we receive before 2 a.m. will be honored," said Greg George, an American Cab manager and driver.

Callers must be at a business and have the owner place the call to request their rides, said George.

"They have to mention 'Walter Clark Legal Group Safe Ride program,'" said George. "They need to call the dispatch. It's a 15-mile limit, so on the meter, that runs around $44 given the current taxicab rates."

The Sheriff's Department also warned those with guns not to shoot into the air when the ball drops, because it's dangerous and it's a felony.

"If you do do it, there's a good chance if you're caught, you're going to be going to jail," said Martello.