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59 arrests in holiday DUI, license-enforcement push

An annual holiday-season campaign to keep drunken drivers and unlicensed motorists off the road has resulted so far in at least 59 arrests for suspected driving while intoxicated, authorities said Thursday.

Authorities have arrested an additional 15 drivers on warrants related to driving under the influence cases, and cited or arrested dozens more for driving with suspended licenses or without any license at all, law enforcement officials said.

The multi-agency campaign, known as Avoid the 13, runs from Dec. 13 to Jan. 1 and includes several checkpoints this weekend, as well as continuing saturation patrols across Sonoma County involving all law enforcement agencies.

Funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the campaign is based on historically high incidence of drunken-driving injury and fatality crashes during December, according to Petaluma Police Sgt. Ken Savano, who coordinates the program.

"If you choose to drive drunk, we will be looking for you, we will stop you and you will be arrested," Petaluma Police Chief Patrick Williams said.

The campaign this year included an undercover court sting Wednesday in which officers monitored defendants appearing in court on DUI violations or cases involving driving without a valid driver's license.

Eight defendants were followed from court and arrested when they were seen driving away despite not having driving privileges.

Enforcement efforts this weekend include two checkpoints at undisclosed locations in Petaluma between 5 p.m. Friday and 3 a.m. Saturday, Savano said.

You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 521-5249 or mary.callahan@pressdemocrat.com.


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