With the holidays officially over, residents transition back to their everyday lives. Decorations are reboxed, trees are recycled and perhaps, some presents re-gifted throughout the year. However, the Santa Monica Police Department hopes that at least one holiday idea sticks: Don’t drink and drive.
Police officers ramp up anti-drinking campaigns in advance of the Christmas/New Year season and those efforts traditionally drop-off as the obvious party atmosphere fades but local officials said the opportunities to over-consume persist so this year, they will continue their outreach efforts into the Spring/Summer.
“The overarching goal of the Santa Monica Police Department is to promote the community’s safety and well-being by drastically reducing the number of preventable, alcohol and drug related crashes and fatalities,” said Police Chief Jacqueline A. Seabrooks.
To that end, the department is partnering with other local law enforcement agencies and nonprofits to keep drunk driving at the forefront of the public consciousness.
“Our shrink wrapped unit, part cruiser, part taxi, reminding the public to wisely ‘choose your ride’ has been quite a conversation piece attracting a lot of attention and positive comments,” said Sgt. Rudy Camarena, the police department’s Public Information Officer. “The outreach effort has been so well received by the community that the department’s Command Staff opted to extend its exposure past the holidays. Expect to see this ‘deterrent on wheels’ out and about during Super Bowl week, Cinco de Mayo, Fourth of July and other celebrations.”
Officials said a coordinated communications strategy, combined with enforcement, creates a highly visible, highly effective combination that can decrease the number of impaired drivers on the road.
SMPD has a history of working with other agencies on DUI enforcement and prevention.
Last year the Santa Monica Police Department worked alongside the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control in rolling out the “Decoy Shoulder Tap” program and the “Minor Decoy Operations.”
The Shoulder Tap program is geared towards adults who act as proxies and knowingly purchase alcoholic beverages at the request of minors outside retail establishments, while the Minor Decoy Operations target retail alcohol licensees to ensure and encourage responsible sales practices.
This month, SMPD has partnered up with the Institute for Public Policy and Downtown Santa Monica Inc. to promote the “It’s too easy” campaign at the skating rink on 5th Street and Arizona.
The campaign highlights the adults’ roles underage drinking. SMPD said adults facilitate underage drinking by providing youth with alcohol at social gatherings, home parties and special events. Adult complacency contributes to problems related to underage binge drinking and hazardous, risk taking behaviors linked to injuries.
“It is important for the Santa Monica Police Department and its local, state and federal partners to collaborate and maintain year round public awareness on the adverse social consequences of substance abuse,” said Sgt. Camarena.
In addition to outreach and educational events, officers are also promoting technological solutions that might appeal to residents of Silicon Beach.
The California Office of Traffic Safety’s Designated Driver’s VIP (DDVIP) mobile phone app features exclusive offers and discounts to sober designated drivers at a growing list of participating bars and restaurants throughout California.
“Designated sober drivers play such an important role in saving lives each time they take the wheel,” said OTS Director, Rhonda Craft. “The DDVIP app lets users see which nearby bars are choosing to reward designated drivers with discounts and free non-alcoholic beverages. Essentially, it gives the designated sober drivers the VIP treatment they deserve.”
Apps are also available for those who find themselves unable to safely drive home.
The U.S Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the California Office of Traffic Safety, both partners of the Santa Monica Police Department, have developed the “Safer Ride- Let’s Get you Home” app. It provides an easy to operate, GPS enabled, smartphone interface that allows a person, with the touch of a button, to summon a taxi, call for a friend or find their location.
For more information on the SMPD’s prevention programs, contact the Santa Monica Police Department’s Community Affairs Office at (310) 458-8474.