The annual DUI numbers are in for this past holiday season. The multijurisdictional “Avoid the 12” enforcement resulted in a total of 228 drunken-driving arrests in Santa Barbara County between December 18 and January 3. That’s a 40 percent increase over the 163 drunken-driving arrests during the same period a year ago.
It’s “a testament to the skill and determination of the officers and deputies from our one dozen participating agencies,” said Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Deputy Win Smith. Twenty-two of the arrests for driving under the influence were made on New Year’s Eve.
With New Year’s Day came a DUI-related fatality. Twenty-two-year-old Damian K. Coles of Santa Maria, 22, was killed by driver Cody R. Stutts at 11:01 p.m., said Sgt. Ben Ruth of the Santa Maria office of the California Highway Patrol. Stutts was thereafter arrested on charges of felony DUI and felony manslaughter. There were no DUI-related fatalities last year.
On the positive side, there were fewer DUI-related accidents resulting in injury this year, down to 10 from last year’s 18.
As a whole, the enforcement was successful thanks to a combination of factors, including numerous sobriety checkpoints, multiple in-city DUI patrols, and increased CHP freeway saturation, according to Smith.
“Avoid the 12,” which refers to the joined forces of 12 Santa Barbara law enforcement agencies, is funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.