2009-01-08 / Front Page

Drunk driving arrests set a record in Ventura County

Ventura County law enforcement took more drunk drivers off roads and highways this holiday season than ever before, an official with a countywide DUI enforcement team said last week.

From Dec. 12 to Jan.1, 14 law enforcement agencies arrested 470 people suspected of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in a 21day DUI crackdown known as Avoid the 14.

The total reflects a 5 percent increase from last year's 449 arrests and a record for Ventura County, campaign spokesperson Jan Ford said.

The local campaign reported no fatalities this year, compared with two during the 2007 holiday season and none in 2006, the year the program began.

"The lack of DUI fatalities this year is the best news we could have," said Avoid the 14 coordinator Cmdr. Martin Meyer of the Oxnard Police Department.

"Our deputies, police officers and California Highway Patrol officers gave their best efforts over the past three weeks, and just look at the payoff," Meyer said.

The campaign, named for the number of participating law enforcement agencies, included city police, the CHP, sheriff's deputies, state park rangers and the U.S. Coast Guard. It included three sobriety checkpoints.

—Michelle Knight

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