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PRESS RELEASE / ANNOUNCEMENTS Sunday, May 5, 2013

Play It Safe This Cinco de Mayo!

AVOID the 12’ - Santa Barbara County’s DUI Task Force Working to Reduce Drunk Driving Crashes and Fatalities

As party-goers celebrate Cinco de Mayo with mariachi music and authentic cuisine, many will also indulge with their favorite margarita or tequila and then unfortunately, choose to get behind the wheel. That’s why this year the ‘AVOID the 12’ DUI Task Force in Santa Barbara County is joining with others across the state and nation to encourage everyone to plan ahead this Cinco de Mayo and to never drink and drive.


“With Cinco de Mayo celebrations on the rise across the country, alcohol-impaired crashes, injuries and fatalities will also rise,” said Sgt. Kevin Huddle of the Sheriff’s Office. “Buzzed driving is drunk driving, and is never safe or acceptable. So folks should plan ahead now to avoid the temptation on the big day.”

Special DUI Saturations Patrols will be deployed this weekend in the cities of Goleta, Guadalupe, Lompoc, Santa Barbara and Santa Maria looking to identify and stop suspected impaired drivers. Additionally, every routine traffic and patrol officer assigned to duty will be on heightened alerted to prevent another senseless tragedy.

From 2007 to 2011, 38 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities that occurred each year around May 5th involved impaired drivers or motorcycle operators with blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of .08 and above, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

During the 2011 Cinco de Mayo holiday alone, 35 percent of motor vehicle fatalities involved an alcohol-impaired driver or motorcycle operator with a BAC of .08 and above. A disturbing 80 percent of the alcohol impaired fatalities involved a driver or motorcycle operator with nearly twice the legal limit, showing a BAC of .15%.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said that people can still enjoy the holiday and celebrations without putting their lives or the lives of other innocent victims on the line.

“When people start celebrating, they often aren’t thinking of how they will get home from the restaurant or a friend’s house. They don’t realize how much they’ve had to drink and how their bad choice could have tragic consequences,” said Sheriff Brown. “That’s why we are reminding folks to play it safe, plan ahead and designate a sober driver.”

Death or injury is not the only consequence from impaired driving. When caught and arrested, violators often face jail time, loss of their driver’s license and it could cost up to $10,000 in fees, fines, and higher insurance rates.

“You should always designate a sober driver before the party begins,” said Sgt. Huddle. “But, if you don’t plan ahead, and you’ve been drinking, do not get behind the wheel. There are plenty of other alternatives that will keep you and others safe and out of trouble.”

Party-goers can call a friend, a taxi cab, use public transportation, or find a safe alternative way to their destination without driving while impaired.

AVOID the 12’ DUI Task Force funding is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration who reminds you – ‘Report Drunk Drivers, Call 911!’

AVOID the 12’ is named for the 12 Law Enforcement agencies within Santa Barbara County that work together to combat impaired driving.

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