Big Bear, Ca, May 25, 2011, 4:00pm – In 2008, the California Highway Patrol responded to 19 accidents on mountain roads which resulted in fatalities.  Five of those accidents were the result of one or more of the motorists driving under the influence of alcohol.  As a result, the mountain areas CHP applied for a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  CHP received the grant, worth 2,000 officer hours for CHP, and an additional $60,000 for the Big Bear and Twin Peaks Sheriffs Department, to use for DUI enforcement.  In the first quarter of 2011, the CHP has made 112 DUI arrests which is a 49% increase from last year.  The grant has allowed the CHP to have alcohol checkpoints on busy weekends or weeknights.  CHP Officer Gary Fernandez pointed out that most people don’t realize how expensive and costly a DUI ticket is.  By state law the first DUI arrest costs a minimum of $780, however additional penalties for a first time DUI Conviction in California normally total $13,500 after the vehicle has been towed and stored, jail costs, fines, legal fees, car insurance increases, DUI victim fund, drivers license reinstatement, and DUI classes.  Officer Fernandez told KBHR that CHP would be helping Big Bear High School conduct the “Every 15 Minutes” Program in June, which paints a realistic picture for students, parents, and the community of what happens when people drink and drive.    Officer Fernandez also told KBHR “we aren’t trying to tell people not to drink, we just want to remind them that if they are going to drink to appoint a designated driver, and not drink and drive.”

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