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Impaired-driver arrests remain high

Posted: November 17, 2011 11:05 a.m.
Updated: November 17, 2011 11:05 a.m.

Impaired-driving arrests continue to account for about half the arrests made in the Santa Clarita Valley, local law enforcement records indicate.

Of 47 arrests made locally between Friday night and Monday morning, 22 were for driving under the influence of either alcohol or drugs.

The impaired-driving arrests were split between those made by deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station and by officers of the California Highway Patrol's Newhall station.

In July, about half of all criminal suspects booked by both local law enforcement agencies were charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a summer survey by The Signal revealed.

By the end of July, the Santa Clarita Valley saw 100 people charged with DUI.

A review of the weekend's booking log shows little has changed since the summer.

Traffic Sgt. Rich Cohen was asked why impaired driving is such a persistent problem.

"I wish I knew," he said.

"I don't think people who drink think that it's really going to impair their ability to drive," he said. "They don't realize the problem it causes until they crash or they hurt one of their passengers or someone else."

Details of the 47 bookings at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station were those recorded and released by the Inmate Information Center of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

All but three of the people charged locally last weekend with driving while under the influence were men of all races and ages.

The oldest driver charged with DUI was 44 years old, the youngest 19. An equal number of suspected drunken drivers were over 30 years old, as were under that age.

From fishermen to film industry stunt men, disc jockeys to engineers in the avionics industry, men outnumber women as the ones apparently getting behind the wheel when they're impaired.

"Of the 22 DUI arrests, you have to look at how many dealt with drugs," Cohen said. "A significant portion involve drugs, but it seems alcohol is the major contributor to driving under the influence."

Cohen said many motorists taking medical marijuana or prescription medicine that impairs their judgment believe they can still drive.

Not so, he said.

"Once you're impaired, you're impaired," Cohen said.
If all the DUI charges and all the drug-related charges were removed from the weekend booking log, local law enforcement would report only half a dozen weekend arrests for crimes that include theft, burglary and spousal abuse.

Out of the remaining weekend arrests that had nothing to do with impaired driving, 19 were for drug offenses, including non-driving alcohol misdemeanors.






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