‘Operation Safeguard’ targets impaired holiday driving

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Law enforcement officials gathered in force Tuesday to publicize plans for an intensive campaign against intoxicated driving and underage drinking in the San Diego area over the long Fourth of July weekend.

“We encourage everyone to plan ahead,” California Highway Patrol Assistant Chief John Antillon said during a late-morning briefing at Bonita Cove in Mission Beach. “If you're going to drink, plan to have a designated driver.”

The multi-agency effort, dubbed “Operation Safeguard,” will consist of widespread DUI checkpoints, roving sobriety patrols and stepped-up enforcement of house-party laws throughout the county.

“We say this … if you're going to drink and drive, you're going to be in trouble, and you're going to spend your weekend not at the beach but with us, all of the people that you see here,” San Diego police Chief William Lansdowne said, standing in front of rows of officers from various local agencies. “Drink responsibly.”

Those caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs will face longer-than-usual stints behind bars before they can bail out, county Sheriff Bill Gore noted.

“If you do get arrested, plan on spending the weekend in the San Diego County jail,” he said. “You probably won't get out until Monday morning. So think about it.”

In addition to detailing the planned high-profile anti-DUI efforts slated for the five-day period, authorities also advised that so-called “social host” laws, which prohibit underage drinking at house parties and other private gatherings, will be aggressively enforced.

On the dates of July 3, 4, and 5 from 2008-12, there were 54 alcohol- related deaths in the San Diego region, according to the county Medical Examiner's Office. Of those, 15 involved drunken driving, while 21 were due to falls, drowning, poisoning or overdoses.

Overall, 40 percent of Independence Day traffic deaths involve a drunken driver, the Automobile Club reported.

Categories: KUSI