CHP to boost patrols this New Year's weekend

California Highway Patrol officers will be out in full force this New Year's weekend, looking for drunk and unsafe drivers.

Officer Demetrio Sanchez took KTVU on a ride-along Thursday in Oakland.

The 12-year veteran, who previously patrolled freeways in Los Angeles and Castro Valley, said the goal is simple.

"We're primarily focusing on DUI enforcement to try to reduce the deaths that have happened on our freeways," Sanchez said.

Every holiday season, there are those who choose to drink and drive - and sometimes yield deadly results.

"Let's think about what the holidays are for, to be around your family and loved ones," Sanchez said. "So I like to put that out to people, to just remember that there are people that would like them to get home safely."

The officer says many people who are inebriated assume they're OK to drive.

"Sometimes people feel like it's a little bit easy, 'Oh I've had one drink, two drinks, I'm OK to drive, I just want to go home."

But some never make it home, whether it's the drunk driver or an innocent victim on the freeway.

"The impact of a small lapse in judgment can affect people for their entire lives," the officer said.

Some tell-tale signs that a driver is drunk: weaving, speeding up and then slowing down, unsafe lane changes and following too closely.

"There's a plethora of violations that can be associated with DUI," Sanchez said. 

We didn't come across any drunk drivers during our ride. But it didn't take long for the officer to find a violator on I-580 near Seminary Avenue in East Oakland.

"We're making this enforcement stop on this black sedan up ahead. Traveling at over 80 mph in a posted 65 mph zone," Sanchez said.

The officer activated his siren, then used his loudspeaker to talk to the driver: "We're going to exit the freeway. Exit the freeway."

It turns out the driver had a permit - but no license - while speeding in his dad's Lexus.

"He was given a warning on his speed and he was ticketed for being unlicensed," Sanchez said.

The boosted patrols, part of what the CHP calls a maximum enforcement period, begin at 6 p.m. New Year's Eve and continue until late Sunday night.