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750+ Arrested For DUI in Riverside County During Holiday Crackdown

There was a ten percent increase in DUI arrests from the same time period last year, officials reported.

A roughly two-week holiday crackdown on drunken and drug-impaired drivers netted more than 750 arrests in Riverside County, authorities said Wednesday.

The Riverside County Avoid the 30 task force -- named for the number of participating law enforcement agencies -- began its end-of-year anti-DUI campaign on Dec. 14 and wrapped it up shortly before midnight Tuesday night. During that time, 754 people were arrested on suspicion of drunken or drug- impaired driving, officials said.

The figure represented a 10 percent jump from the 2011 campaign, when 682 suspected drunks were nabbed.

"Tragically, there were three deaths attributed to a drunk driver in our area," according to Riverside police Sgt. Skip Showalter, the Avoid coordinator. "Last year, there were five deaths attributed to impaired driving during the year-end campaign."

Saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints were deployed countywide during the effort, which was part of the multi-state "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign, sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The task force received a federal grant earlier this year in support of operations.

Showalter said additional Avoid operations are planned on Super Bowl Sunday and during St. Patrick's Day.

The California Highway Patrol's "maximum enforcement period," during which all available officers hit the streets to catch DUI suspects and other traffic violators, coincided with the Avoid campaign.

The Riverside CHP office reported 47 DUI arrests on area roads and highways during the New Year's weekend MEP.

The previous New Year's MEP resulted in 28 arrests. That campaign, however, was a day shorter.

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