s
s
Sections
Search
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, nearly 1.5 million people used their mobile devices to visit our sites.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Wow! You read a lot!
Reading enhances confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction. Keep it up! Subscribe.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
Until next month, you can always look over someone's shoulder at the coffee shop.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Supporting the community that supports us.
Obviously you value quality local journalism. Thank you.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
We miss you already! (Subscriptions start at just 99 cents.)
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
X

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Login

X

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

LoginSubscribe

Planning to have a glass of wine with your holiday meal? A cold beer over football? Perhaps, under a right granted in November by California voters, smoke a joint at home?

If so, beware of over-imbibing or using marijuana and driving, said state and local public safety officials.

With the holiday season underway, Sonoma County law enforcement agencies are ramping up patrols and checkpoints in hopes of preventing alcohol- or drug-related crashes, which remain the No. 1 killer on roadways statewide and across Sonoma County.

“Even though over the past 40 years, the percentage of crashes involving alcohol has actually gone down, we’re seeing a spike in drug-involved driving,” said Chris Cochran, a spokesman for the California Office of Traffic Safety, which compiles statistics from every state on fatal crashes and arrests involving driving under the influence.

“We’re seeing an uptick in the use of drugs like opioids and medical marijuana, and with the use of recreational marijuana now legal, we’re anticipating this being a bigger problem this year and in the years ahead,” Cochran said. “We want people to know drugs and alcohol are dangerous things to mix with driving.”

While Thanksgiving is consistently ranked as the worst day for driving under the influence, festivities surrounding Christmas and New Year’s Eve are next in line.

“There tends to be more celebrating around these winter holidays — we call it the big three,” Cochran said. “There’s just more going on. It’s dark and it’s often rainy, and more people are on the roads.”

Cochran said state public safety officials are focusing efforts this year on a robust campaign educating the public about the dangers of using drugs and driving. Driving becomes even more dangerous when marijuana, opioids or sleeping pills are mixed with alcohol, officials said.

“We’ve been trying to inform people that they can get arrested and get a DUI for being drug-impaired just like a DUI involving alcohol,” he said. “We’re focusing on that because we’re seeing the use of drugs spreading across the country.”

Local law enforcement agencies, equipped to perform sobriety tests for both alcohol and drugs, are expected to deploy teams of extra officers especially on holiday weekends through the end of December, said officials with the California Highway Patrol and Santa Rosa Police Department. Already, departments are beefing up enforcement activity in response to other festivities, such as holiday work parties and football games.

“The whole month of December is packed with parties and other gatherings,” said Officer Kenny Ferrigno, a Santa Rosa police investigator who specializes in cases involving DUI. “We see a lot more people watching like playoff football games, drinking beer with buddies at bars, or kids are home from college and hanging out with their friends, or people are off work and families are just back together for the holidays.”

As of Nov. 30, Santa Rosa police have arrested 660 people for drunk driving or driving while on drugs, up nearly 11 percent from 2015, when police arrested 596 people, according to Sgt. Summer Black, who heads the traffic division for the Santa Rosa Police Department.

Two people have died in crashes involving drugs or alcohol, Black said.

Countywide, 2,642 people have been arrested for driving under the influence this year, according to preliminary state figures.

You can reach Staff Writer Angela Hart at 707-526-8503 or angela.hart@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ahartreports.

Show Comment