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State to aid city’s DUI crackdown

November 12, 2009

State to aid city’s DUI crackdown

The Palm Desert Police department has received a California Office of Traffic Safety grant for $163,167 to help the city curb the number of DUI-related crashes.

“We’ll be able to use this grant for public education programs, DUI and license checkpoints and saturation patrols,” said Sgt. Mike Bianco said.

The grant also will fund the purchase of a new trailer that will haul equipment used at checkpoints, Bianco said.

Police officials have been working to improve the city’s standing in Office of Traffic Safety rankings over the past year. In 2008, the city received a $111,706 grant from the OTS after ranking eighth out of 97 reporting cities (with populations under 50,000) in the number of fatal and injury traffic collisions. It ranked ninth out of the 97 in alcohol related crashes.

According to the updated rankings, Palm Desert now ranks 13 out of 106 reporting cities in the number of crashes involving alcohol and 14th out of 106 in the number of fatal and injury collisions.

“We’re not as bad as we were,” Bianco said. “The ranking has changed a little bit but it is still too high.”

As with most grants, the department must comply with certain requirements or forfeit the grant.

To fulfill one requirement imposed this year, the department had to conduct a motorcycle DUI enforcement program due to an increasing number of motorcycle collisions, Bianco said.

“We were able to comply with that requirement already during the Palm Springs bike event,” Bianco said.

The department conducted saturation patrols during last month’s Palm Springs, American Heat — Palm Springs Motorcycle Weekend, he said.

“We’re planning to have four checkpoints and 15 saturation patrols over the term of the grant,” Bianco said.

Two DUI warrant sweeps will also be conducted.

“We’ll be going to their place of work or home and make the arrest there,” Bianco said.

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