Bay Area law enforcement crackdown on holiday DUIs

- Across the Bay Area, this weekend and next, law enforcement is looking for drunk drivers with sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols. 

Statistics show that during the Christmas and New Year's seasons, two to three times more people die in alcohol-related crashes than during comparable periods of the year.

"Start with your right foot in front of your left," instructed a San Rafael Police officer, putting a driver through a field sobriety test Friday night.

"Just watch me before you do it, because you're doing it wrong!," he admonished as the man, unsteady on his feet, tried to imitate his motions.

The driver admitted to a drinking a cocktail while out buying a Christmas tree, which was strapped to the roof of his car.  

Other drivers reported him swerving, and officers who responded found him parked partly in a driveway, and halfway into the road.

"We're looking for speed, swerving, unsafe lane changes," explained Officer Scott Fisher, who was on special saturation patrol looking specifically for impaired drivers.

There are telltale signs: tailgating, loud music, high beams on, or no headlights on at all.

"It's going to be hit and miss, are you going to find that person?" acknowledges Fisher.

But the point is to find them before they injure or kill themselves or others.

On Wednesday in Fairfield, two cars collided head-on and burst into flames.

Two people died, in what police said was  DUI-related crash.

It's the season for holiday socializing, more parties, and more drinking.

Officers note, consumption can sneak up on people who they think they are okay to drive when they're not.    

"When you administer the test to yourself, you're not a good judge of what is actually occurring," Officer Scott Eberle told KTVU.

"It's mind-blowing to me why people don't pay the ten, twenty, dollars for a taxi or ride service," Eberle added, "because compared to ten thousand dollars and up for a DUI, it's cheaper, easier, safer."

Police responded to another San Rafael driver who crashed her car into her house, coming home from shopping.

She acknowledged drinking a glass of wine with dinner and officers concluded she was sober.  

Not so, the man whose Christmas tree will have to wait.

He was handcuffed and taken to jail after blowing a breathalyzer reading about three times the legal limit of .08. 

"One more drunk driver off the street for tonight and a good one because he was very, very intoxicated," declared Ofc. Fisher.

"I want everybody to have a great holiday and get home safe. If that means taking someone to jail for Christmas, then I'm all right with that."

San Rafael Police will be conducting saturation patrols next Friday as well, in advance of New Year's Eve. 

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