(Riverside Law enforcement spread awareness on drug-impaired driving) 

On Friday, March 1st, 2024, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office will work alongside the Norco Sheriff’s Office in a safety enforcement operation. From the time of 1:00 pm to 11:00 pm, the operation will be conducted within the city limits of Norco. While specific locations are not currently disclosed, the county states that DUI checkpoints are held on streets with frequent crashes. 

On February 26th, 2024, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office announced they would be conducting a DUI Saturation/ Safety Enforcement Operation in the city of Norco. Alcohol is not the only substance that police will be in search of as the county reminds the people of Norco that taking both illegal and legal substances can be flagged as driving under the influence. Prescribed and over-the-counter medications can also interfere with one’s driving ability.

This comes after the checkpoint results in the cities of  Palm Desert DUI operations. On February 23rd, 2024, during that 8-hour inspection, in the streets of Fred Waring Drive and Portola Ave, seven were arrested for DUIs, three for driving under the influence of alcohol, and one for driving under the influence of drugs combined. Out of the 1,075 drivers that were stopped, 84 went through a secondary screening, and 14 were given sobriety tests. Other problems were licenses, as 32 drivers were cited for driving without a license and two others were arrested for driving with a suspended license.

California itself has a lengthy past of DUIs. The Annual Report of California DUI Management Information System reported that in 2019, there were 124,141 total DUI arrests and according to the Department of Motor Vehicles(DMV), fatalities were up to 48% in 2020 with DUI-involved crashes  In the last couple of years we’ve seen a decrease in alcohol-involved crashes but an increase in drug-involved crashes. California’s Office of Transportation Safety also reported 751 fatalities happened in 2021 alone. 

The consequences aren’t pretty. Drivers who are charged with a DUI can end up with fines as large as $13,500 and can have their licenses suspended. First-time DUI drivers can face up to six months of jail time or three years of probation for their offense, as well as having their car impounded. According to Shouse California Law Group, second and third-time offenders suffer harsher consequences. Second-time offenders can face up to $2300 and an 18-month program for a Drug and Alcohol Program. Third-time offenders can face $3000 and a 30-month program and even an installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) for 2 years. 

In the past, Riverside County pushed for a way to lower the DUI rates by introducing a program as “Know your Limit”. “Know your Limit” was created to educate the public and make better choices when having a fun night out on the town. These programs would have officers stationed by the openings of various entertainment buildings, such as bars and clubs, promoting safe choices. Volunteers would guess their BAC ( Blood Alcohol Concentration) before blowing into a breathalyzer. Many would be surprised to see just how high their alcohol levels were. The campaign included handing out flyers of information and a car designed to imitate both a taxi and a police car, with the words “Choose YOUR Ride”.

Riverside County continues to push for safer drinking habits with grants given by California’s Office of Transportation Safety. OTS funds the DUI checkpoints in Riverside County and considers drug-impaired driving as one of the toughest safety challenges they face. The OTS shares on their main website their goals for this problem: Train law enforcement to detect better those driving under the influence, to reduce the number of people harmed by drug-involved accidents, and to reduce the fatalities from drug-involved accidents. 

Norco’s safety enforcement operation will not be the last, as the county continues to crack down on drug-impaired driving. While Riverside has made quite a difference in conducting these checkpoints, more work remains to be done. 

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