DUI checkpoint sign. File photo
DUI checkpoint sign. File photo

Riverside County sheriff’s stations countywide initiated an anti-DUI campaign Wednesday that will continue to New Year’s Day, utilizing saturation patrols, sobriety checkpoints and other measures to nab drunk and drug-impaired drivers.

The winter mobilization is part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Drive Sober, or Get Pulled Over” campaign, which is held annually.

According to sheriff’s officials, deputies from the Jurupa Valley, Moreno Valley, Norco, Palm Desert, Perris, Temecula and Thermal stations will be involved, conducting operations aimed at catching DUI suspects and other roadway offenders until Jan. 1.

In addition to concentrated patrols, there will be sobriety checkpoints, where deputies will confirm motorists are licensed to drive and whether they are inebriated or altered due to drug use, officials said.

“The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department reminds the public that impaired driving is not just from alcohol,” a department statement said. “Some prescription medications or over-the-counter drugs may interfere with driving.”

The NHTSA said that in 2020, 11,654 people were killed in crashes nationwide stemming from driving under the influence — about one fatality every 45 minutes.

“The holidays are a special time of year for many, and we want drivers to act responsibly,” Deputy Jonathan Kehrier said. “This enforcement period allows us to get the message out that driving impaired is an illegal, senseless behavior that takes lives.”

Along with the sheriff’s campaign, municipal police agencies throughout the county will be conducting their own efforts.

The Menifee Police Department inaugurated its anti-DUI crackdown Wednesday as well, with plans for targeted patrols and checkpoints.

“Everyone should be able to enjoy time with their families this holiday season and not have to worry if their loved ones will make it home for the holidays,” Menifee Police Chief Ed Varso said.

A misdemeanor DUI conviction can result in fines totaling $13,500, suspension of driving privileges and other penalties, authorities said.

The California Highway Patrol is also slated to initiate crackdowns to apprehend DUI drivers and other traffic violators during Christmas and New Year’s weekends.

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