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Santa Monica Police Try to Put Brakes on Holiday Violations

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By Niki Cervantes
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December 17, 2014 –  During the holidays, Santa Monica police are taking measures to help put the brakes on accidents involving impaired drivers; prevent collisions involving motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians, and deter alcohol sales to minors, police officials said Tuesday.

Police will conduct a DUI checkpoint Friday at an undisclosed location in the city between 7 p.m. and 3 a.m. to look for signs of alcohol and/or drug impairment and verify that drivers are using a valid driver’s license, according to a statement issued by the department.

Police say such checkpoints, which are common during the holidays, act as deterrents to those who might get behind the wheel impaired. The statement said research indicates accidents involving such drivers can be reduced by up to 20 percent when “well-publicized, enforcement checkpoints and proactive DUI patrols are conducted routinely.”

With the arrival of the holidays, Santa Monica police have been amping up patrols and programs aimed at accidents involving vehicles, as well as the city’s large population of bicyclists and pedestrians.

On Saturday, police deployed extra patrols in areas where bike, pedestrian and vehicle traffic and collisions are most common. The result:  Officers from the Traffic Enforcement Unit made ten bicycle stops and issued four citations; stopped ten pedestrians and issued one citation; and pulled over 17 vehicles, issuing tickets to all but one.

“It did a lot of good,” said Sgt.  Rudy Camarena, a department spokesman. “It showed we were targeting the right areas.”

Meanwhile, police are rolling out programs aimed at keeping minors from purchasing alcohol, either by use of an adult proxy, fake IDs or other methods, Camarena said.

The “Decoy Shoulder Tap” operation zeros in on adults who act as proxies to buy alcohol for minors who solicit them outside licensed establishments, he said.

The “Minor Decoy” program uses supervised adults under the age of 20 – usually police academy cadets, Camarena said – as decoys who attempt to buy alcohol.
Camarena said, though, that both programs start with an education program for  the 200-plus establishments in Santa Monica that sell alcohol.

 “We do a lot of outreach,” he said.

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