Published: June 26, 2014

Statewide Crackdown Starts Thursday, July 3

All around the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area and up and down the state, deputy sheriffs, police officers and California Highway Patrol officers will crack down on people who decide to drink or take drugs and drive over the Independence Day weekend.

The four-day crackdown lasts from the first minute of Thursday, July 3, through midnight, Sunday, July 6. It’s such a big deal that it’s funded by a large federal grant.

Our friends at the CHP will be saturating the highways all weekend. This enhanced enforcement will be also be a project of all law enforcement agencies in the region, so expect to see a fleet of patrol cars.

The DSA would like to remind everyone that Independence Day weekend poses a specific, often-dangerous situation when it comes to sober driving.

The holiday is mostly celebrated outdoors, either in backyards or public parks with picnics and barbecues. People of all ages attend, from little kids to great aunts. Many party hosts put out an ice chest filled with bottles of beer. Bottles of wine stand on the picnic table along with the ketchup and the dish of pickles.

Celebrations usually last a few hours in the bright sunshine.

Everyone’s catching up with friends and family, playing softball, watching the kids run around and chowing down. The situation couldn’t be more wholesome if Norman Rockwell had painted it. It’s not like you’re sitting in a dim bar or a restaurant.

But alcohol sneaks in. Because of the all-American, family-oriented setting, it’s easy to lose track of how many beers you’ve had or glasses of wine you’ve downed.

If you’re at someone else’s house or a public place, how are you going to get home without hurting or killing yourself or someone else, seeing your car insurance rates skyrocket and paying fines so large they could have been a hefty down payment on a new car?

Designated drivers, of course. You’ve heard it about three million times.

Here are some inside tips about designated drivers, those unsung heroes who regularly save lives.

  • Designate a friend or family member who will stay stone cold sober and drive everyone else home safely.
  • Do this little task before you even buy the hot dogs. If you wait until you’re on your way out the door with the watermelon, it will be too late. If you wait until people have started to drink, it will be far, far too late. Everyone’s judgment is circling the drain.
  • Cab drivers make excellent designated sober drivers. A particularly slick move is to take a cab to a party so you won’t be tempted to drive home after you’ve been drinking. The fee is tiny compared to the up to thousands of dollars in fines you could rack up if you’re arrested and convicted.
  • If you find yourself stuck at the party without a way home, sleep on the couch.
  • Never get into a car with a driver who has been drinking. Stand up to dim-bulb statements such as “But I drive better when I’m drunk.”

Seat belts, along with designated drivers, are two powerful weapons against the pain, injury, heartbreak and death DUI suspects so often inflict.

When you’re not buckled up and get into a crash, you’re essentially getting into four crashes.

First, your body goes through the windshield, leading with your face. Second, other unrestrained passengers in the car slam into you. Third, your body gets thrown out of the vehicle onto the roadway. Fourth, and probably the most grisly, your internal organs slam into each other.

After having said all that somber stuff, everyone at the DSA and our brother organization, the Santa Clara County Correctional Peace Officers’ Association, wishes you a happy and safe Independence Day weekend.

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