Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

Cinco de Mayo should be a great time to celebrate Friday, but it can also be a dangerous time on Southern California roads with drunken or drugged drivers.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is among the law enforcement agencies planning to conduct DUI saturation patrols Friday in connection with Cinco de Mayo.

The department’s DUI Enforcement Team will deploy DUI saturation patrols from 6 p.m. Friday to 2 a.m. Saturday in areas where DUI collisions are frequent.

The Monterey Park and Pasadena police departments will conduct DUI saturation patrols from 7 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday.

Cinco de Mayo is among the holidays when drunken and drugged driving is higher than usual. There were 40 people killed nationwide in impaired driving crashes during the Cinco de Mayo holiday period in 2015, according to the sheriff’s department.

High visibility enforcement using both DUI checkpoints and DUI saturation patrols has decreased the number of persons killed and injured in alcohol- or drug-related crashes.

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.

“Despite being outnumbered two to one, the bravery and valor of the Mexican people that day has been an inspiration ever since, and their heroism has won the hearts of the people not only in Mexico, but across America,” Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday at a reception at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House.

“Cinco de Mayo has become a day to celebrate the extraordinary contributions that Mexican Americans — and, really, all Hispanic Americans — have made and continue to make in the United States of America.

From the arts to the armed forces, from the sciences to sports, Mexican Americans have made a lasting impact on our nation — and on our history books — and filled those history books with names of trailblazers.”

But despite the historic nature of May 5, authorities will be out in force to nab impaired drivers.

Research shows that crashes involving an impaired driver can be reduced by up to 20 percent when well-publicized proactive DUI operations are conducted routinely, according to the sheriff’s department.

Sheriff’s deputies will also be looking for signs of drug impairment among drivers.

Drug impaired driving crashes in California have increased in recent years, according to the sheriff’s department, which supports the new effort from the Office of Traffic Safety intended to educate all drivers that “DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze.”

Drivers taking prescription drugs, particularly those with a driving or operating machinery warning on the label, might be impaired enough to be arrested for DUI. Marijuana can also be impairing, especially in combination with alcohol or other drugs, and can result in a DUI arrest, according to the sheriff’s department.

The sheriff’s department is encouraging drivers to download the Designated Driver VIP, or DDVIP, free mobile app for Android or iPhone. The app helps find nearby bars and restaurants that feature free incentives for the designated sober driver, including free non-alcoholic drinks and free appetizers.

The app includes a tab for drinkers to contact the Uber, Lyft or Curb ridesharing services.

—City News Service

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