SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Checkpoints are scheduled to be set up around San Diego County this weekend and again on New Year's Eve to catch suspected drunken drivers.
Police officers in El Cajon scheduled a checkpoint from about 6 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday in an effort to reduce the number of people injured or killed in alcohol- or drug-related crashes and to ensure drivers had valid licenses, according to Monica Zech, the city's public information officer.
Among the checkpoint's components were to increase awareness of the dangers of impaired driving and to encourage the use of sober designated drivers. By publicizing the enforcement and education efforts, police believe motorists could be deterred from drunken or drugged driving, Zech said.
The Escondido Police Department will also conduct a checkpoint Friday, Lt. Tom Albergo said.
According to Albergo, seven people were killed and 234 were injured in drunken driving crashes in Escondido over the past three years.
"DUI checkpoints have been an essential part of the phenomenal reduction in DUI deaths that we witnessed since 2006 in California," Christopher J. Murphy, Director of the California Office of Traffic Safety, said. "But since the tragedy of DUI accounts for nearly one-third of traffic fatalities, Escondido needs the high visibility enforcement and public awareness that checkpoints provide."
The San Diego Police Department's Traffic Unit planned checkpoints from 9 p.m. Saturday to 3:30 a.m. Sunday, and again starting at 9 p.m. Monday at undisclosed locations within the city, according to San Diego police Officer Mark McCullough.
Officers would contact drivers to check for signs of alcohol or drug impairment and when possible, specially trained officers would evaluate those suspected of drugged driving, the officer said.
"Over the course of the past three years, DUI collisions have claimed 60 lives and resulted in 2,518 injury crashes harming 4,992 of our friends and neighbors," McCullough said, adding checkpoints' deterrent effect was a proven resource in reducing the number of people injured or killed in alcohol- or drug-related crashes.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled Tuesday for a former San Diego police officer accused of groping four women during pat-down searches last year.
Chula Vista police will be looking for drivers talking or texting on cell phones Tuesday and through the end of the month as part of "Distracting Driving Awareness Month."
Police were on the lookout Tuesday for the man who fired a shot while robbing a Rolando-area smoke shop and his accomplice who emptied its cash register.