Local law enforcement agencies crack down on drunk driving

The crackdown starts today and ends on New Year's Day

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Beginning today, law enforcement agencies throughout Riverside County will be ramping up patrols, setting up checkpoints and taking other steps to get intoxicated and drug-impaired drivers off the streets.

The Avoid the 30 task force, named for the number of agencies participating, will be conducting anti-DUI operations from 6 p.m. today to midnight on New Year's Day.

Law enforcement officers will be checking drivers at sobriety checkpoints and deploying ``saturation patrols'' in specific areas.

``You will see us making lots of stops during this highly visible enforcement period,'' said Riverside police Sgt. Skip Showalter, the Avoid coordinator. ``If we suspect anyone is driving while under the influence, officers will show zero tolerance for drunk or drugged driving.''

Checkpoints and saturation patrols are scheduled today in Beaumont, Corona, Desert Hot Springs, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Lake Elsinore, Murrieta, Riverside and Temecula.

During last year's Avoid the 30 year-end crackdown, 758 people were arrested on suspicion of DUI. That compared to 682 during the same period in 2011, figures showed.

The effort is part of the nationwide ``Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over'' campaign sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The California Highway Patrol's ``maximum enforcement period,'' when all available officers fan out to catch traffic violators, will coincide with Avoid operations on Christmas Day and New Year's Day.    

Authorities recommended that people planning to imbibe during holiday festivities designate a sober driver, hire a taxi or use a community sober ride program to get home.

Law enforcement officers urged people to report drunken drivers by calling 911.

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