Officers will be out in force on New Year's Eve looking for drunk drivers. This car was towed after it's driver failed to pass inspection at a driver's license/sobriety checkpoint conducted by the Santa Monica Police Department. (photo by File Photo)

CITYWIDE — When it comes to drinking and driving, the Santa Monica Police Department has a “zero tolerance” policy.

Officers will be conducting a “Zero Tolerance DUI Saturation Patrol” New Year’s Eve at various locations throughout the city, targeting those who still don’t heed the message to designate a sober driver before their celebrations begin, police said.

The saturation patrol is an effort to make New Year’s Eve safer by cracking down on impaired driving and to improve traffic safety, save lives, and prevent injuries, said Sgt. Jeff Wiles.

“If you drive while impaired from alcohol and/or drugs, Santa Monica Police Department officers will be looking for you,” Wiles said. “If you are driving while impaired you will be arrested.”

Funding for the patrol is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Statewide, overall traffic deaths declined by 23 percent, from 3,995 in 2007 to 3,081 in 2009. Total traffic fatalities are at their lowest levels in six decades, police said. DUI deaths have declined by 16 percent from 1,132 in 2007 to 950 in 2009. Alcohol-impaired deaths still make up the largest category of overall vehicle fatalities, with 31 percent of all deaths caused by an impaired driver.

“Everyone in California should be heartened with these declines,” said Christopher J. Murphy, director of the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS). “But as encouraging as this is, we can’t let up on the efforts to encourage and support traffic safety. Please, help make your community safe; if you see a drunk driver, call 911.”

The patrol will deploy throughout Santa Monica starting at approximately 6 p.m.

news@www.smdp.com

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