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Friday, August 31, 2012

Labor Day Sobriety Checkpoints

The map of Category:Maps of Orange County with...
Maps of Orange County with its city's boundaries. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today marks the beginning of our 2012 Labor Day Holiday Weekend. For many it will be time to celebrate with family and friends, perhaps enjoy a three day weekend free from work and to commemorate all that American workers have contributed to the social and economic development of our country. There will be picnics, barbecues, parades, special back-to-school sales, but for many it may very well be a turning-point in their life as they happen upon a "sobriety checkpoint" and are subsequently ticketed for driving under the influence (DUI).

Being stopped and ultimately ticketed for DUI is a red-flag alert that the person stopped is more than likely an alcoholic, suffering from the disease of addiction. Most people who receive their first DUI will eventually admit that it was not their first time driving drunk, but in fact only the first time they got caught. For many it will make them face their demons and they will either get help on their own or be forced by the court system to seek treatment. We can all agree this would be a good outcome, as opposed to eventually harming or killing an innocent victim or themselves as a result of driving drunk.

So as the Labor Day Weekend gets underway many communities across the nation are planning for sobriety checkpoints, maybe even marking this weekend's sobriety checkpoint as a way to mark the end of the season's special enforcement period.  Orange County, California, is no exception. In fact, Orange County has a DUI campaign called "AVOID the 38." The number 38 represents the number of participating Orange County law enforcement agencies. This campaign is provided funding by the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "AVOID the 38" is part of California's AVOID Anti-DUI Program. According to the California AVOID website:

"The AVOID Anti-DUI Program was launched in the winter of 1973 to bring law enforcement agencies together in countywide clusters to crack down on the drinking driver and reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by alcohol related crashes. Funding, provided by grants from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, allows counties to add overtime hours, reassign officers, and conduct public awareness campaigns during the increased enforcement periods. The overall goal of the awareness campaign is to let drivers know about the countywide increased enforcement periods and warn drivers that the only way to "AVOID" the county's law enforcement officers is to drive sober."

The Orange County community of Mission Viejo offers the following tips for holiday driving:

  • Arrange rides home for your friends, family, co-workers and yourself before the drinking begins. 
  • Those hosting celebrations and servers must limit drinks to your guests or patrons. Don’t serve more than one or two over several hours. 
  • Cut back on the amount of drinks you plan to bring to the party – and provide plenty of food. 
  • If you see dangerous driving, Report Drunk Drivers – Call 9-1-1! 
If you have never been through a Sobriety Checkpoint, it can be a little disconcerting even if you have not been drinking. Remember that any Sobriety Checkpoint has one goal: to save lives!  For example, in 2010 California had 791 alcohol impaired driving fatalities, of which 94 were under the age of 21.

Wishing you safe and sober Labor Day Weekend. If you realize you are suffering from the disease of addiction consider treatment.  It may save your life or the life of an innocent victim.
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