San Luis Obispo-area California Highway Patrol officers rang in the new year with 80 percent more holiday driving-under-the-influence arrests than they made during the same period last year.
According to Joe Vega, the SLO area CHP public information officer, local highway patrollers made 18 DUI arrests from 6 p.m. on Dec. 28 to midnight on Jan. 1--compared with 10 arrests in a similar time frame last year. However, the SLO stats didn't represent what happened across the state. Vega said the CHP made 1,082 DUI statewide arrests during the New Year's holidays this year--down from 1,322 in 2007.
Though it's illegal to operate a motor vehicle in California with a blood-alcohol level of more than .08 percent, Vega said a driver could be subject to arrest with a lower percentage if he or she is still impaired.
"A lot of the time, people think they have to be falling down drunk to be impaired, and that's not the case," he said. "The simplest way to avoid a DUI is to have a designated driver--and I'm not saying pick the guy who is not the drunkest. We mean someone who has not consumed any alcohol."
On city streets, from Thanksgiving night to New Year's Day, San Luis Obispo Police Department officers made 28 DUI arrests.
According to Sgt. John Bledsoe, many of these arrests involved collisions, two involved injuries, and one was a felony.