SAN DIEGO (CNS) - After making 22 drunken driving arrests in the first 12 hours of the holiday weekend, California Highway Patrol officers in San Diego County made just 25 more DUI arrests in the following 48 hours, authorities said Monday.
The 47 total DUI arrests by San Diego-area CHP officers between 6 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Monday is down from 66 during the same period last year, CHP officer Tommy Doerr said. That discrepancy comes as a surprise after the 22 arrests Friday night and Saturday morning marked a 38 percent increase over that same period last year.
In both 2016 and this year, there was one fatality on San Diego County roads through the first 2 1/2 days of the July Fourth holiday weekend, Doerr said. This year's fatality occurred late Friday night in Otay Mesa West when a 58-year-old man wearing dark clothing and crossing Palm Avenue outside a crosswalk was struck by an SUV.
Across the state, drunken-driving arrests in CHP jurisdiction are down from 948 last year to 896 this year, Doerr said. Fatalities are also down on California roadways, from 23 in 2016 to 21 in the first 60 hours of the holiday weekend this year.
Of the 17 people killed in collisions in CHP territory, nine were not wearing seat belts.
San Diego police operating a DUI checkpoint arrested eight drivers suspected of drunk driving late Saturday and early Sunday in Mission Beach, while California Highway Patrol officers made 37 drunk driving arrests in the first 36 hours of the holiday weekend.
The San Diego Police Department checkpoint was a part of the county-wide "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign, an effort to crack down on drunk driving over the July 4th holiday weekend. More checkpoints and roving DUI patrols are planned through the end of Independence Day.
Between 10:20 p.m. Saturday and 3 a.m. Sunday, more than 1,320 vehicles passed through the SDPD checkpoint at 2600 Ingraham St. south of Pacific Beach, officer Mark McCullough said. Of those vehicles, 874 were screened and 24 drivers were evaluated.
Eight drivers were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, seven vehicles were impounded and one citation was issued. There were no arrests made for drug-related impairment.
Meanwhile, CHP officers arrested 37 people on suspicion of drunk driving between 6 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Sunday, down from 42 DUI arrests in that same 36-hour period last year, CHP officer Mary Bailey said. Twenty-two of the 37 arrests were made between Friday evening and 6 a.m. Saturday morning.
Across the state, drunk driving arrests by the CHP in the first 36 hours of the weekend were slightly down from last year, from 673 in 2016 to 640 this year, Bailey said. But crash-related fatalities were up from 12 last year to 17 this year, including a pedestrian who was struck and killed Friday night in Otay Mesa West.
Six of the 13 people who died in CHP jurisdiction crashes were not wearing seat belts.
The SDPD plans to conduct another DUI/driver's license checkpoint Monday and the San Diego County Sheriff's Department -- which made six DUI arrests on July 4 last year, and seven the previous year -- is planning increased patrols across the county Tuesday. The Escondido Police Department also plans to operate several more DUI checkpoints across the city ahead of the holiday. A Friday night checkpoint at 3300 Bear Valley Parkway in Escondido netted two DUI arrests.
At a news conference Thursday announcing the "Drive Sober" campaign, SDPD Chief Shelly Zimmerman implored drivers to be safe over the holiday weekend.
"Please do not drink and drive or drive in any way impaired," Zimmerman said. "For those that make the wrong and terrible decision to drive impaired, we want you to know this: We will be conducting maximum DUI enforcement targeting drunk and impaired drivers throughout the entire holiday period."
Already this year in San Diego County, 14 people plus an unborn baby have been killed in DUI crashes, the San Diego County District Attorney's Office reported, with the number of DUI deaths already approaching the 19 that occurred all of last year. The district attorney's office said it has already filed charges in 40 serious-injury or fatal DUI cases this year.
"Every DUI fatality case, we can charge as high as murder," Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright said. "More than half of our cases are murder cases, because we're dealing with people who have been warned not to drink and drive ... and people with prior history of drinking and driving, so they have a subjective knowledge of just how dangerous it is to drink and drive."