BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The Kern Avoid DUI Task Force is asking people to plan ahead this Cinco de Mayo and to never drink and drive.
According to the Bakersfield Police Department, special DUI saturation patrols will be deployed Cinco de Mayo weekend in several cities within Kern County, looking to identify and stop drunk drivers. The Kern Avoid task force will also be conducting a DUI & Driver's License checkpoint over the holiday weekend.
From 2007 to 2011, 38% of all vehicle fatalities that occurred around May 5th involved impaired drivers with blood alcohol concentrations of .08 and above, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
During the 2011 Cinco de Mayo holiday alone, 35% of motor vehicle fatalities involved an alcohol-impaired drivers with a BAC of .08 and above. A disturbing 80% of alcohol-impaired fatalities involved a driver with nearly twice the legal limit.
"When people start celebrating, they often aren't thinking of how they will get home from the restaurant or a friend's house. They don't realize how much they've had to drink and make a bad choice that ends in tragedy" said Sgt. Graydon Argast of the Bakersfield Police Department. "That's why we are reminding folks to play it safe and plan ahead, designate a sober driver."
Officials say violators face jail time, loss of their driver license and up to $10,000 in fees, fines, and higher insurance rates.
"You should always designate a sober driver before the party begins," said Sgt. Argast. "But, if you don't plan ahead, and you've been drinking, do not get behind the wheel. There are plenty of alternatives that will keep you and others safe and out of trouble."
Officials say party-goers can call a friend or cab, use public transportation or a sober ride program.