police-light-bar1.jpgWhile many people are preparing to dish out holiday dinner with Thanksgiving less than a week away, California Highway Patrol officers have been busy dishing out DUI arrest warrants.

According to numbers released by the CHP Friday, last year more than 210,000 arrests were made across the state for driving under the influence, but hundreds of impaired drivers had to be tracked down by special CHP warrant service teams to be brought to justice.

Despite being down nearly 3 percent from last year’s state totals, impaired driving remains a “major traffic safety concern,” according to the CHP.

Efforts to hold the offending drivers, who sometimes fail to appear in court, accountable for their actions have been advanced by the creation of DUI warrant service teams, according to CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow.

Between warrants that were served in the past 12 months and those that are still pending, the warrant teams served or attempted to serve 872 DUI warrants, which represents a 22.5 percent increase over last year.

“Through the efforts of the warrant service teams, hundreds of people were brought to justice” by deploying teams of officers in counties with stubbornly high numbers of outstanding DUI arrest warrants, Farrow said in the statement released Friday.

Warrant service team operations netted 327 arrests and citations during that same 12-month period. Officers attempted to serve an additional 545 DUI warrants, which the CHP said will remain active until those drivers are arrested or cited.

Grant funding from the California Office of Traffic Safety, which supports the warrant team operations, also provided training for 33 additional team members who will assist in future missions.

Additional training is required for the officers because the warrant service operations are more dangerous than traditional law enforcement operations, according to the CHP.

Officers are placed at risk when they enter homes and workplaces, although they may also be subjected to high risk situations when they are required to enter confined or unfamiliar spaces and structures, the CHP said.

Funding for the warrant service project was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Patricia Decker, Bay City News

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