Roadways get dangerous during the holidays. Avoid DUIs and stay safe

This crash occurred earlier this year and was caused by an impaired driver who was traveling the wrong way on Highway 17 near Santa Cruz. Non-life-threatening injuries were sustained in the collision.
This crash occurred earlier this year and was caused by an impaired driver who was traveling the wrong way on Highway 17 near Santa Cruz. Non-life-threatening injuries were sustained in the collision. Santa Cruz station

For many, the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year. Like the lyrics from my favorite Christmas song, there will be parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting and caroling out in the snow. As the song mentions, parties will be hosted, which brings me to my next topic.

The California Highway Patrol reminds the public that driving under the influence (DUI) of any substance, whether it is alcohol, drugs or prescription medication, will not be tolerated.

This should be a familiar message. After all, it is 2018, people should know better by now, right? Well, recent data from the CHP’s five-day Thanksgiving maximum enforcement period proves otherwise. The CHP’s San Joaquin Valley area offices accounted for 162 DUI arrests over the period. These numbers show some individuals are still making poor choices.

CHP officer Robert Montano writes the On Duty column for The Bee. Fresno Bee file

It goes without saying that impairment often causes horrendous tragedies. The CHP’s stated goal is to prevent injury and death on the state’s roadways, and getting an impaired driver off the road is removing a dangerous traffic hazard.

Despite all of our best efforts — enforcement, billboards, television commercials, radio spots, etc. — impaired driving continues to be a significant problem. So, how can you avoid becoming another DUI statistic? You can start by keeping the following tips in mind before heading out for the holiday party.

Just say no! It sounds simple, does it not? The best way to avoid a DUI is to not drink if your plans require you to drive. If you are going to drink, don’t drive.

Don’t hesitate to designate. Most of us know at least one person who does not consume alcohol. Invite them out for the evening and offer to buy them dinner. Encourage your designated driver.

Drive high, get a DUI. Never consume cannabis before driving a vehicle. Many CHP officers are drug recognition experts and every officer has received advanced training in roadside impairment. So the CHP can tell if you are under the influence of marijuana or any other substance that impairs your ability to safely operate a vehicle.

DUI is a 100 percent preventable crime that often victimizes the innocent. In 2016, the CHP investigated 572 fatal traffic collisions and 12,450 injury-related collisions, which were determined to be caused by impaired drivers.

To help reduce these numbers the CHP will be conducting additional DUI sobriety checkpoints, DUI saturation patrols and traffic safety education activities throughout California. The primary goal is to make the roadway a safe place for all to travel by removing impaired drivers.

It is no secret that officers cannot be everywhere at once, so we are calling for your help. You too can combat the crime of DUI by stepping up and making it your business to ask the right questions.

If you see a friend who has had too much to drink, do not be afraid to ask them how they plan on getting home. If you are embarrassed to ask these questions, ask yourself why? Would you want a drunken driver out there on the roads with you? Do whatever it takes to make sure your friends and family do not drive impaired.

The consequences of a DUI, including fines, increased insurance fees and the loss of your driver’s license, are considerable, but nothing compares to hurting someone else or worse. So, please make the right call during the holidays and plan to arrive by avoiding a DUI at all costs.

On behalf of the California Highway Patrol, happy holidays and stay safe!

CHP Officer Robert Montano can be reached at rmontano@chp.ca.gov. For more from the CHP Central Division, go to the division’s Facebook page.