The Petaluma Police Department has received a $280,000 grant to combat drunk driving in Sonoma County and will administer the funds to 13 agencies throughout the region.
Driving under the influence continues to be a big problem in Sonoma County, where a third of traffic fatalities are alcohol-related, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety, which awarded the grant.
The money will be spent on staffing additional DUI and driver license checkpoints and DUI Task Force deployments. It will also target repeat DUI offenders with warrant and probation sweeps and court sting enforcement operations. The latter focus on people who go to court, are ordered by a judge to not drive, but then do so anyway
Critics say checkpoints net more undocumented drivers than drunks, but Petaluma police defend their use and say that highly visible and highly publicized checkpoints deter impaired driving.
“Research shows that crashes involving alcohol drop by an average of 20 percent when well-publicized checkpoints are conducted often enough,” said Sgt. Ken Savano, in charge of Petaluma Police Department’s traffic unit, in a statement.
“Checkpoints have provided the most effective documented results of any of the DUI enforcement strategies, while yielding considerable cost savings of $6 for every $1 spent,” he said.
Last year, Sonoma County public safety officials arrested more than 400 drivers on charges of driving under the influence and reduced alcohol-related collisions by 19 percent, according to Savano.