Friday marked the first day of an annual three-week, multi-agency DUI crackdown throughout Santa Barbara County. The Sheriff’s Office and the DUI task force called Avoid the 12 — 12 law enforcement agencies participate — have received a $130,000 grant for the past 10 years to fund additional DUI checkpoints, warrant sweeps, and court stings throughout the year, with extra efforts during Memorial Day, Labor Day, and the holiday season. Sheriff Bill Brown, District Attorney Joyce Dudley, police officers, and firefighters gathered at the Sheriff’s headquarters on Friday morning to warn against drinking and driving.
Sgt. Kevin Huddle, who heads the DUI task force, told the crowd that 2,481 people were arrested in the county for driving while intoxicated in 2012, and 154 of those occurred during the three-week holiday period. He said there were no DUI-related deaths during the 2012 holiday season. In his experience, Huddle went on, many people arrested for driving under the influence claimed they were the designated driver. Further, stats show that a person arrested for a DUI had likely driven drunk approximately 80 times before they were caught.
Raymond Morua’s high-profile DUI hit-and-run case, which killed 27-year-old Mallory Rae Dies, serves as a reminder to abstain from drinking and driving, Huddle said. Congressmember Lois Capps, whom Morua worked for before he was terminated from his position as a district representative, was unable to attend the press conference as the House’s December session adjourned Friday, but Sheriff’s personnel distributed Capps’s written statement: “… [T]his year we know all too well how critical these messages are,” she said. “The recent tragedy that has impacted so many of us in the Santa Barbara community is a sad reminder to everyone of the awful results that come from drinking and driving.”