Memorial Day weekend gets underway Friday and not only marks the unofficial start to summer, but is considered by law enforcement to be the start of California’s 100 dangerous days of summer on the roads.
A “maximum enforcement period” will begin at 6 p.m. and extend through 11:59 p.m. Monday, during which all available California Highway Patrol officers will be on the lookout for motorists driving drunk or committing other traffic violations, including seatbelt violations.
“One of the simplest things a person can do to stay safe is to buckle up,” CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley said. “Not only does the law require vehicle occupants to wear a seat belt, but it helps protect against injury or death.”
Of the 37 people killed in traffic accidents within CHP jurisdictions during the Memorial Day period in 2018, nearly half were not wearing any type of safety restraint, according to the agency.
Figures show that last year’s Memorial Day weekend MEP netted 1,060 DUI suspects statewide, representing a roughly 15 percent increase compared to the prior year’s effort.
The CHP campaign will coincide with sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols planned in a number of municipalities.
In an attempt to reduce the number of alcohol-related collisions, the Redondo Beach Police Department will have additional officers on patrol looking for suspected drunk or impaired drivers, according to Sgt. Stephen Sprengel.
“If you plan on drinking, don’t plan on driving,” Sprengel said. “Know beforehand how you are getting home. It’s never worth putting yourself and others at risk by driving when you should not be driving.”
Police offered the following tips to make sure drivers have a safe Memorial Day holiday and summer:
— Have a sober friend, ride-share, taxi or public transportation be your ride home;
— Call 911 to report drunk drivers;
— Hosting a party? Offer nonalcoholic drinks. Monitor who is drinking and how they are getting home;
— Check any medications or over-the-counter drugs you are taking and how they may impact your ability to drive.
Drug-impaired crashes are on the rise in California in recent years and the RBPD reminded drivers that “DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze.”
Prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and marijuana can also affect your ability to drive safely, especially when combined with alcohol or other drugs, Sprengel said.