El Centro, CA â€” As party-goers celebrate Cinco de Mayo with mariachi music and authentic cuisine, many will also indulge with their favorite margarita or tequila, and then, unfortunately, choose to get behind the wheel.
Thatâ€™s why this year the Avoid the 8 DUI Task Force â€“ Imperial County is joining with others across the state and nation to encourage everyone to plan ahead this Cinco de Mayo and to never drink and drive.
â€œWith Cinco de Mayo celebrations on the rise across the country, alcohol-impaired crashes, injuries and fatalities will also rise,â€ said Executive Commander Eddie MadueÃ±o, El Centro Police Department.Â â€œBut buzzed driving is drunk driving, and is never safe or acceptable. So folks should plan ahead now to avoid the temptation on the big day.â€
Special DUI Saturations Patrols will be deployed this weekend in several cities within the county looking to identify and stop suspected drunk drivers.Â Additionally, every routine traffic and patrol officer assigned to duty will be on heightened alerted to prevent another senseless tragedy.
From 2007 to 2011, 38 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities that occurred each year around May 5th involved impaired drivers or motorcycle operators with blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of .08 and above, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
During the 2011 Cinco de Mayo holiday alone, 35 percent of motor vehicle fatalities involved an alcohol-impaired driver or motorcycle operator with a BAC of .08 and above. A disturbing 80 percent of the alcohol impaired fatalities involved a driver or motorcycle operator with nearly twice the legal limit, showing a BAC of .15.
Executive Commander MadueÃ±o said that people can still enjoy the holiday and celebrations without putting their lives or the lives of other innocent victims on the line.
â€œWhen people start celebrating, they often arenâ€™t thinking of how they will get home from the restaurant or a friendâ€™s house, and they donâ€™t realize how much theyâ€™ve had to drink and make a bad choice that ends in tragic consequences,â€ said Executive Commander MadueÃ±o.Â Â â€œThatâ€™s why we are reminding folks to play it safe and plan ahead, designate a sober driver.â€
Death or injury are not the only consequences from impaired driving. When caught and arrested, violators often face jail time, loss of their driverâ€™s license and it could cost up to $10,000 in fees, fines, and higher insurance rates.
Â â€œYou should always designate a sober driver before the party begins,â€ said Executive Commander MadueÃ±o. â€œBut, if you donâ€™t plan ahead, and youâ€™ve been drinking, do not get behind the wheel.Â Â There are plenty of other alternatives that will keep you and others safe and out of trouble.â€
Party-goers can call a friend or cab or use public transportation.
Avoid the 8 DUI Task Force funding is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration who reminds you â€“ â€˜Report Drunk Drivers, Call 911!â€™