City of Ukiah, California

Police Department

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New Year’s Eve and DUI Arrests

This New Year’s Eve, most people will spend their time with friends and family. They will celebrate the passing of the year, and the promise of the year to come.

As we celebrate, rarely will we think, “This will be the year I am arrested for driving under the influence,” or “This will be the night that my life tragically changes as a result of a drunk driver.”

Almost every day of the year, our local law enforcement officers arrest someone for driving while intoxicated. And during the holidays – especially New Year’s Eve night – extra officers are on patrol. We encourage these officers to get as many intoxicated drivers off the road as possible.

Having seen the results of driving under the influence (DUI) – either as a result of alcohol or drugs – police officers, deputies and CHP officers are passionate about getting compromised drivers off the streets. These officers don’t want to be mean or unfair; rather, they are committed to preventing horrific accidents that leave gaping holes in the lives of those involved.

Officers have seen the tragic results of DUIs first hand, tragedies that cannot be undone. Because DUI accidents impact so many people, our officers are dedicated to preventing drunk drivers from hurting themselves or others. So, if they seem a little inflexible about drunk driving, remember each DUI arrest is a DUI accident prevented.

This New Year’s Eve, the right thing to do is to designate a driver, someone to stay sober and get everyone home safely.

Drugged Driving

While many people are accustomed to hearing about drunk driving, “drugged driving” doesn’t seem to get as much attention.

Although using marijuana may help with certain medical problems, driving while under the influence of marijuana or other drugs (prescription or illicit) can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. And, in addition to being dangerous, it’s just as illegal as driving under the influence of alcohol.

It may shock you to know just how many drivers are under the influence of marijuana or other drugs. According to a survey released by the California Office of Traffic Safety, one of every seven drivers each weekend night is under the influence of drugs.

Last year, 1,300 drivers stopped at checkpoints in California voluntarily submitted breath and saliva samples. Survey results revealed that 7.3 percent of the drivers tested positive for alcohol, 7.4 percent tested positive for marijuana, and 14 percent tested positive for other drugs.

California Director of the Office of Traffic Safety Christopher Murphy said, "This survey is the first of its kind ever undertaken by a state. These results reinforce our belief that driving after consuming potentially impairing drugs is a serious and growing problem."

In California alone, nearly 1,000 deaths and injuries each year are blamed directly on drugged drivers, according to California Highway Patrol data. In fact, between 1999 and 2009 fatalities in crashes that were caused primarily by drugs (without alcohol involvement) jumped 55 percent. 

DUIs are expensive.

In Mendocino County, a person’s first DUI would cost them about $2,700 in court fines and fees, 48 hours in jail, the time it takes to participate in and complete an alcohol program, additional attorney’s fees, and loss of your driver’s license for a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of six months. And all of this would be getting off cheap compared the cost of ruining or taking a life as a result of an accident while under the influence.

DUIs can be prevented.

It’s simple to prevent DUIs. Always designate a driver, even if you’re just going to dinner.

This New Year’s Eve, please decide at the beginning of the night who will drive home. If you are with friends who have not planned well and it appears they should not be driving home, don’t take “no” for an answer. Figure out a way to get them (and if possible, their vehicle) home safely.

I know this can be tough. It’s hard to tell a friend or family member that they shouldn’t drive, especially after a few drinks when they’ve become a little belligerent or overconfident in their driving abilities. Standing up to them can be awkward for you and embarrassing for them; but take it from me, it’s worth it.

Attending their funeral or visiting them in jail is a lot more awkward.

Our Department’s Approach

Driving either drunk or drugged is illegal and it puts you, your neighbors, and our whole community at risk. Regardless of your position on the legalization of marijuana, I hope we can all agree that we must do whatever we can to make our Ukiah community safe. That includes not driving a vehicle while impaired, either by alcohol or drugs.

If you suffer from a condition that medicinal marijuana helps, please take the time to learn and follow the rules of legal use. If you don’t know the rules, ask questions before you inadvertently put yourself, your family, and your neighborhood at risk – legal or otherwise. Don’t think just because you have a prescription to use marijuana or any other drug that it’s ok to drive while using that drug.

If, on the other hand, you choose to drink or use marijuana and drive, remember that you are choosing a dangerous, illegal activity. While I believe in being compassionate, our job at UPD is to protect the citizens of Ukiah. My officers and I will not hesitate to do so when we see illegal drunk or drugged driving.

Please have a safe and very Happy New Year, and if you need to, find a designated driver to get you home safely! 

As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have any suggestions or comments about how we can improve, please feel free to call me, complete our online survey, or leave a crime tip on our website: 

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Safety · Professionalism · Community Service