"AVOID THE 7": NEW DUI TASK FORCE IN HUMBOLDT COUNTY
They’re calling it “Avoid The 7;” law enforcement agencies county-wide teaming up into one task force to fight DUI and avoid getting arrested for impaired driving.
"There certainly is a problem in Humboldt County,” said Sgt. Charles Ellebrecht of the Fortuna Police Department. His agency is leading the new task force. “Last year alone there were over four people killed as a result of dui drivers," Ellebrecht says that’s just too many.
“Anytime we can do something to lower those statistics we certainly want to do something to be a part of that."
The task force is the combined forces of Arcata Police, The California Highway Patrol, Ferndale Police, Rio Dell Police, and District Attorney’s investigators.
In Eureka, Senior Traffic Officer Gary Whitmer says it will make an impact. He says DUI numbers are up, and its about time “Avoid the 7”get started bringing them down.
“The streets would be a lot safer there would be a lot less injured people or dead people from alcohol related crashes."
“We have quite a few arrests and it keeps our misdemeanor attorney's busy, " says Chief Investigator Mike Hislop of the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office.
“We’re very anxious to help them out any way we can and that's putting investigators at the DUI checkpoints."
There will be 24 checkpoints over the next year as a result of the enforcement campaign. Ellebrecht says they’re also targeting the “worst of the worst by doing court sting operations that focus on repeat offenders.
“The residual to that would be getting behind the wheel when their license has been suspended because of DUI driving,” Hislop says.
A $72,000 grant from the Office of Traffic Safety is making the task force possible.
"Its certainly worth every dime if we can save one life out there,” and Ellebrecht says he’s ready to send the message that if you don’t drink or use drugs and drive… you will “avoid” getting arrested. "There are some accidents that are accidents but when it comes to DUI its completely avoidable."