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Sonoma County California Highway Patrol to increase patrols ahead of New Year’s Day

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The Santa Rosa-area CHP will increase patrols beginning Tuesday evening in preparation for New Year’s Day festivities, an enforcement strategy the agency says it will duplicate across the state, the agency said.

The heightened, statewide patrols will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday and last through all of New Year’s Day. Officers will watch for drivers who show signs of impairment — from alcohol or other drugs — as well as motorists who fail to follow other rules of the road, such as drivers who are distracted, speeding or not wearing their seatbelt.

“We’re going to emphasize safe driving and designating a sober driver, especially on holidays, just because there’s more people driving with their families, and that sometimes involves some celebrating too,” said Officer David deRutte, a spokesman for the local CHP unit.

In all, Sonoma County CHP officers will cover about three dozen patrol shifts during the heightened enforcement period, deRutte said. Two patrol cars staffed with officers who signed up to work overtime on New Year’s Eve and on New Year’s Day will also supplement the agency’s patrol efforts late, he added.

“Those are pretty strong numbers,” deRutte said. “Everybody available will be there.”

Highway 101 from Petaluma to Cloverdale will be of strong interest for the agency given it serves as the county’s main commuter highway, deRutte said.

Two other roads, Lakeville Highway located south of Petaluma and River Road, a west county thoroughfare, will likely also receive extra attention from officers, as each has been the site of several serious crashes in the past, he said.

CHP officers arrested 1,140 people suspected of driving under the influence last year during a similar, four-day heightened enforcement period at the start of 2018. The agency reported 25 people were killed and 270 others were injured in collisions involving impaired drivers during that same time frame.

“Driving while impaired can have tragic results,” said CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley. “Whether impaired by alcohol or drugs, the result can lead to arrest, injury, or death. Either way, the impact will be life-altering.”

You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or nashelly.chavez@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @nashellytweets

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