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For holidays, more drinkers – and police – on the road

Drunk drivers in Roseville are more often from out of town than from the city, and are increasingly women, the latest police statistics show.

As part of a statewide campaign, Roseville police are stepping up patrols from Dec. 17 through this holiday weekend, and their DUI arrests have matched overall trends in recent years.

Of 658 DUI arrests in the first 11 months of 2010, non-Roseville residents composed 55 percent. Police spokeswoman Dee Dee Gunther said that data “reinforces Roseville’s position as a regional destination for shopping, entertainment, and ‘just passing through.’”

She also was unsurprised by the increase in female drivers under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Women have made up 30 percent of DUI arrests this year, compared with 24 percent in 2007. Although it is unclear whether the change is statistically significant, Gunther said it makes sense, given the popularity of girls’ nights out, girl power and other symptoms of feminist movements.

Still, police say that young males are especially vulnerable, with nearly a quarter admitting that in the past year, they’ve ridden with drunk drivers.

Now, the approaching New Year’s Eve brings as good an excuse as any for alcoholic merrymaking. In response, the California Office of Traffic Safety has launched an anti-drunk driving blitz across the state, including a grant to Roseville of $4,872.05 max per checkpoint. The money pays overtime for police to conduct sobriety checkpoints.

The city is also partnering with the California Highway Patrol, Placer County Sheriffs, California State Parks and the Lincoln, Rocklin, and Auburn Police Departments.

Roseville’s last checkpoint, close to Labor Day, filtered through 664 drivers, screened 19 for drugs and alcohol and yielded two DUI arrests.

“The purpose of checkpoints isn’t to make lots of arrests,” Gunther said. “It’s to conduct a highly visible program and raise the awareness of motorists about the dangers of DUI.”

The department had planned to set up a checkpoint Dec. 17, but a heavy storm made the operation potentially dangerous. Instead, police went out on a DUI saturation patrol resulting in 10 arrests, half of them for DUIs.

Warmer months make for more frequent checkpoints, which OTS director Christopher J. Murphy said “are proven as the most effective DUI countermeasure.”

To fund checkpoints, his department is doling out $5 million to California law enforcement agencies.

Gunther said the cost to catch offenders is modest compared with the cost to arrestees.

DUI arrests can lead to attorney fees, penalties and car insurance totaling $5,200-$10,200, according to the Office of Traffic Safety.

Taking into account monetary as well as quality of life losses, that number jumps to $115,000 for DUI crash survivors, and to $3.8 million per DUI-related death.

According to police statistics, such deaths in Roseville are relatively rare – one or two per year on average – while DUI injuries affect around 56 people annually, on average.

Lien Hoang can be reached at


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