DUI checkpoint. File photo.
DUI checkpoint. File photo.

The Long Beach Police Department announced Tuesday that traffic and patrol officers assigned to duty today will be on heightened alert, arresting impaired drivers to prevent “senseless tragedy due to alcohol or drugs.”

According to the release, on Cinco de Mayo in 2013, 64 percent of the drivers in fatal crashes had no alcohol in their systems. The other 36 percent were found to be drinking and driving. Recent statistics reveal that 30 percent of drivers in fatal crashes had one or more drugs in their systems, while a study of active drivers showed more tested positive for drugs that may impair driving (14 percent) than did for alcohol (7.3 percent). Of the drugs, marijuana was most prevalent, at 7.4 percent, slightly more than alcohol.

Specially trained drug recognition experts will be checking for drug impairment whenever suspected.

The LBPD urges all celebrators, bar hoppers and party goers to designate a sober driver ahead of time or have a concrete plan of traveling home safely to avoid disaster. According to the release, the average DUI costs about $10,000. 

“Our main goal is to save lives,” said Lieutenant Kris Klein of the Long Beach Police Department Traffic Section in a statement. “Around the county, we want to debunk the myth that you can drink until you feel it and then get behind the wheel. You can’t. Remember that ‘Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.’”

The California Office of Traffic Safety is offering a free mobile app, DDVIP to sober designated drivers (DD) with perks and free offers at local bars and restaurants. For those without a DD, the new SaferRide app from NHTSA should make finding a sober ride home an easy task.

Asia Morris is a Long Beach native covering arts and culture for the Long Beach Post. You can reach her @hugelandmass on Twitter and Instagram and at [email protected].