LOS ANGELES COUNTY — Arrests for suspected drunken driving were up slightly over the previous year this holiday season county-wide, officials said, though checkpoints held Friday in the San Gabriel Valley and Whittier area saw few intoxicated drivers.
Throughout Los Angeles County, police, sheriff’s and California Highway Patrol officials jailed 2,433 people on suspicion of driving under the influence since Dec. 16, Avoid the 100 Task Force officials said Tuesday in a written statement. Avoid the 100 is a coalition of Southern California law enforcement agencies who take part in specialized anti-DUI campaigns.
Officials made 2,406 DUI arrests over the same time period in 2010.
At a Friday checkpoint on Washington Boulevard near Sorenson Avenue in unincorporated West Whittier, CHP Officer Al Perez was pleased to report, “We came up dry.”
Officers screened 476 of the 723 cars that went through the checkpoint, but arrested or cited no one and impounded no cars, officials said.
“It’s very unusual to have absolutely no DUIs, or no cars impounded whether for suspended license (or) unlicensed driver,” Perez said. “Everyone was doing their part and doing the right thing out there, and we’re happy to see that.”
“(Drivers) took the media warnings to please don’t drink and drive and all the advertising,” Perez said. “I think they got the message.”
In West Covina, police manned a checkpoint Friday at Azusa and Cameron avenue, where an allegedly drunken driver ran a red light and crashed Dec. 23, critically injuring a 19-year-old West Covina man.
At that checkpoint, officers screened 1,718 cars, West Covina police Sgt. Dennis Patton said. One driver was arrested on suspicion of DUI, 14 drivers received tickets and 11 vehicles were impounded to to driver’s without valid licenses.
But the goal of the checkpoints is not only to remove drunken drivers from the roads, but also to inform the public about the issue and provide a deterrence, officials said.
“The whole idea is to get compliance with the law,” Patton said.
And the Dec. 23 crash is a prime example of why driving under the influence should never be tolerated, the sergeant said.
Twin 19-year-old twin brothers were in a Toyota Camry that was making a left turn from Cameron Avenue onto Azusa Avenue when a Chevy Impala being driven by an allegedly drunk 23-year-old La Puente man went through a red light at “a high rate of speed” and broadsided the Toyota, Patton said. The driver was critical injured and remained hospitalized in critical condition Tuesday.
The suspect’s name was not released pending booking into jail, officials said. He was initially hospitalized following the crash
“Here’s kid here who’s pretty severely injured because of the actions of a drunk driver,” Patton said, adding that DUI often devastates families when it results in major injury or death.
At a police checkpoint in Azusa Friday, one driver was arrested on suspicion of DUI, as well as possessing a small amount of marijuana and driving without a license, Azusa police Cpl. Dean Brewer said in a written statement.
Three other drivers received tickets for driving without valid licensed, resulting in a total of four impounded cars, the corporal said. In all, 1,313 cars passed through the checkpoint, and officers screened 1,213 of them.
Police in Baldwin Park had a much busier time at their most recent holiday checkpoint late Friday.
Baldwin Park officers jailed four DUI suspects and issued a total of 89 tickets, 66 of them for driving without a valid license, Baldwin Park police Lt. David Reynoso said.
Seventy-eight vehicles were impounded altogether, with 11 of them being 30-day impounds and the rest being one-day impounds, he said.