booze.jpgA statewide holiday DUI crackdown has netted over 1,000 arrests throughout the Bay Area since Dec. 16, and law enforcement agencies are gearing up for more enforcement actions for the upcoming New Year’s Day weekend.

A large portion of those arrests — 485 — were made in Alameda County, home of four command centers for the California Highway Patrol, in Oakland, Castro Valley, Dublin and Hayward.

“Alameda County does very large enforcement events, we sent out 200 officers on a strike team on the 16th of December,” said Jan Ford, spokeswoman for Avoid anti-DUI campaigns coordinated between local law enforcement, sheriff’s departments and CHP in San Francisco and Alameda counties.

She said that there was also a large force out following the Dec. 18 NFL game between the Detroit Lions and the Oakland Raiders.

In addition to those arrests, a warrant sweep was conducted throughout Alameda County and officers knocked on doors looking for offenders with outstanding DUI-related warrants.

Ford said in total law enforcement had a stack of 550 warrants to serve, and added 52 to Alameda County’s total of DUI-related arrests for the season.

Other counties are conducting their own warrant sweeps, including 32 arrests in Sonoma County, Petaluma police Sgt. Ken Savano said.

Savano said Sonoma County law enforcement has also been conducting checkpoints and patrol enforcements, and has made 132 DUI arrests during the campaign.

Several Bay Area counties are reporting less DUI arrests during the same period in previous years, a trend they attribute to increased awareness of the risks of driving drunk.

Santa Clara County reported that 279 arrests were made between Dec. 16 and Dec. 28 this year and 375 arrests were made during the same period in 2010; San Mateo County reported 111 arrests this year and 128 last year; Monterey County reported 61 arrests this year and 108 last year.

But the holiday DUI campaign is not yet over, and law enforcement is gearing up for one of the biggest drunk driving nights of the year–New Year’s Eve.

Law enforcement will be out in force, patrolling and conducting DUI checkpoints looking for drivers who left parties after too much to drink.

One DUI checkpoint that has already been announced is in San Francisco starting at 8:30 p.m. at Folsom and Eighth streets.

“Anyone who’s planning on going over to the city had better be stone-cold sober,” Ford said.

Ford is encouraging drivers to take a bus, hop on a cable car, or take a cab if they’re planning on celebrating New Year’s Eve by drinking.

“Even if you take a cab back to the East Bay, that’s $50 to $60, that’s much cheaper than a DUI arrest,” she said.

In addition, BART will be running longer hours on New Year’s Eve to accommodate the holiday festivities. Trains will run until 3 a.m. on Sunday morning, well after the ringing of the New Year at midnight.

Scott Morris, Bay City News

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