The California Highway Patrol has issued a warning to drivers with a DUI felony or misdemeanor arrest warrant hanging over their heads.
Turn yourself in before a special team of CHP officers turns up the heat.
CHP officials in Sacramento announced this week that it is kicking off a six-month DUI enforcement sweep targeting people with outstanding arrest warrants.
In Sonoma County, there are 948 active DUI arrest warrants. Some of these cases could fall into the crosshairs of CHP officers whose specific task will be to serve warrants throughout the state, said CHP spokeswoman Erin Komatsubara.
"We have home addresses, we have work addresses," Komatsubara said. "We could go knocking on your door at work, at home and at your place of business for those who have their own businesses. It could be very embarrassing."
CHP officials said they expect to serve 6,000 warrants through Sept. 30, with CHP officers focusing on counties with an overwhelming number of outstanding warrants within four of the CHP's divisions. Among these is the Golden Gate Division, which includes Sonoma County.
According to statewide traffic records for 2008, 790 people were killed in collisions where alcohol or drugs was a factor. That year, more than 217,000 DUI arrests were made by law enforcement agencies.
The DUI enforcement sweep, which is funded by a $311,568 federal highway safety grant, is the CHP's way of sending a message to those who "just don't get it," Komatsubara said.
"It's such a huge problem," she said, noting it costs roughly $13,000 or more for a first offense."
Komatsubara said that figure includes the initial towing and storage, fines and penalties, mandatory course fees, possible attorney's fees and auto insurance increases.
She said that for a first offense, a driver's annual auto insurance increase is estimated at $8,652.
CHP officers tasked with knocking on Sonoma County doors will operate out of the agencies Gold Gate Division in the East Bay. The division covers a nine-county region that goes from San Jose to Sonoma County to Solano County.
In a statement issued this week, CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow asked people with outstanding warrants to turn themselves in.
"Otherwise, they will be arrested wherever they are found, which may prove to be quite inconvenient and perhaps embarrassing," he said.
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