Big move to make SR-78 a less dangerous drive - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Big move to make SR-78 a less dangerous drive

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ESCONDIDO (CBS 8) - Escondido police are teaming up with a number of law enforcement agencies to crack down on drunk driving in the North County.

On Friday, they announced a task force, “Avoid the 8 on 78” that will include eight law enforcement agencies to focus on patrolling State Route 78, which is becoming increasingly dangerous.

Escondido police reports from 2010 to 2013 the California Highway Patrol made 1,655 DUI arrests and investigated 207 impaired driving collision on SR-78.

“We all have stories, we all have statistics but tonight we are trying to make a change,” said Escondido Police Chief, Craig Carter.

Escondido, Oceanside, San Marcos, Vista, Carlsbad, CSU San Marcos, Palomar College and CHP are participating in the Task for that will go on year round with checkpoints and patrols on the SR78 and on surface streets in towns bordering the highway.

“The idea is you don't know where we are but we are going to be out there and  we are going to be out there in force,” said Carter.

Police announced the campaign in a news conference where a woman shared the pain of losing her son and brother in a DUI crash in October.

“He's not coming back, they're not coming back,” said Lorena Ramirez.

On October 12, around 3:00 a.m. police say Francisco de la Torre, 24, was driving with his nephew, Angel Ramirez, 23, in the passenger seat. The car veered off the road on Bear Valley Parkway, crashed into a light pole and caught fire near Canyon Road. De la Torre died at the scene and Ramirez died at the hospital.

“It's the hardest thing to go through, I wouldn't want this to happen to anybody. It's not worth it,” said Tony Ramirez, Angel's brother and Francisco's nephew.

the family gave police permission to put the De la Torre's mangled car was on a trailer at the checkpoint to send a message to drivers about the dangers of drinking and driving.  

During the first DUI checkpoint in Escondido, officers arrested a driver with a travel bottle of alcohol and bong in the car and another driver had meth and guns in the car.

If the patrols or a grieving mother's pain does not send the message not to get behind the wheel if you've had too much to drink, officers hope the mangled car at the DUI checkpoint will send a clear message.

“Do not drink and drive and do not get behind that wheel, don't,” said Lorena Ramirez.

The campaign is paid by each law enforcement agency and some of the funding will come from individual grants. The enforcement will go beyond the holidays and happen randomly throughout the year.
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