Today is Cinco de Mayo, and while many people may head out for a night of margaritas or Mexican beer, police across the Southland plan to be out in force in search of drunken drivers.
“Our main goal is to save lives,” Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse said. “Around the county, we want to debunk the myth that you can drink until you feel it and then get behind the wheel. You can’t.”
The Burbank Police Department is one of many law enforcement agencies planning to have stepped-up or saturation patrols on the streets.
“If you don’t designate a sober driver ahead of time or have a solid plan for how you’ll get home safely, you are setting yourself up for disaster,” said Sgt. Jimmie Pitts of the El Monte Police Traffic Safety Bureau.
Police advise people planning to celebrate to:
— designate a sober driver before the festivities begin;
— report drunken drivers by calling 911; and
— take the keys of people about to drive while impaired and help them make arrangements to get safely to where they’re going.
Police also said the state Office of Traffic Safety is offering a free mobile app called DDVIP that offers perks and outlines free offers at area bars for people serving as designated drivers.
Cinco de Mayo commemorates the victory of a 4,500-man Mexican militia over a larger, well-equipped French expeditionary force at the original Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.
“The battle happened during a time when the French wanted to occupy Mexico and weaken the United States, which was in the middle of its own Civil War,” said California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles.
“It was truly a turning point in a long struggle for true independence from all foreign powers. An army of mostly untrained and ill-equipped farmers, ranchers and laborers defeated the French Army.
“Cinco de Mayo is an annual reminder that you can do anything you set your mind to with enough heart, grit and determination.”
—City News Service