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Fresno law enforcement responds to spike in DUIs ahead of holiday season

ABC30 Central Valley
ABC30 Central Valley
 2022-12-03

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Local law enforcement is hammering home the dangers of drunk driving as they see a spike in DUI arrests.

The California Highway Patrol, Fresno Police Department, Clovis Police Department, Fresno County Sheriff's office and the District Attorney's office are partnering with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, to stress the importance of designating a driver.

For a fourth Christmas, the family of Fresno Police officer Phia Vang will have an empty chair at their table where he would normally be.

His oldest son, Corey Vang, says, "there are somedays that are rough, especially during the holidays, it's a lot harder than usual."

Vang adds, "we visit his resting place and tell him Merry Christmas ... tears are bound to come regardless, but we're still grateful for the time we did have with him when he was still with us."

The 26 year veteran of the department was on his way home from work when he was killed by a drunk driver.

Now, Corey is volunteering with mothers against drunk driving, to stress the life changing consequences of drunk driving.

CHP officer Mike Salas says, "it's one of those situations that not only brings anger, it brings frustration. It brings sorrow especially when it's one of our fellow officers out there that is involved just because it's an inexcusable act."

Thanksgiving weekend alone, CHP arrested 1,016 DUI drivers across the state.

Salas says, " that cell phone is right at your hand make that call either to a ride share program taxi tow truck."

Cell phones and ride share apps are nothing new but the DUI problem remains.

So far in 2022, Fresno County has seen 4,413 DUI cases come in for prosecution-- including 147 crashes that caused injury-- 18 people died.

Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama says, "there's no excuse anymore... a 2,500 pound vehicle driven by someone intoxicated can and will kill somebody."

This year, his department has made 1,604 DUI arrests on pace to surpass last year's total.

Clovis police have made 315 DUI arrests so far this year, compared to 275 all of last year.

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