COACHELLA VALLEY, Calif. - The California Highway Patrol has a message for motorists: Drive safe and sober during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, or face serious consequences.
The agency will initiate its annual Thanksgiving "maximum enforcement period'' at 6 p.m. Wednesday, when all available officers will deploy to catch drunken or drug-impaired drivers, speeders and other traffic violators. The effort will continue through Sunday night.
During last year's Thanksgiving maximum enforcement campaign, the CHP arrested 902 people statewide on suspicion of driving under the influence.
A total of 31 people died in collisions on roads and highways under the CHP's jurisdiction during the 2016 Thanksgiving weekend. That figure rose to 55 when all California police agencies' fatalities were counted, according to the CHP.
Officers from the Riverside, Beaumont, Indio and Temecula CHP stations will be on Inland Empire freeways, highways and unincorporated roads, looking to snare scofflaws.
The maximum enforcement period will coincide with the fifth annual "Interstate 40 Challenge: The Drive Toward Zero Fatalities,'' a national campaign that seeks to have a law enforcement officer actively patrolling 20- mile stretches of I-40, from California to North Carolina, Wednesday night to
"California did not experience a single fatality on I-40 during last year's challenge,'' CHP Chief Bill Dance said. "With the public's continued cooperation, the CHP will promote a safe traveling season during the Thanksgiving holiday.''