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Cracking Down on DUIs
updated: Dec 12, 2010, 7:11 PM

In a new and innovative effort to save lives and prevent injuries on Ventura County highways, the Ventura County Alcohol and Drug Programs is teaming up with the City of Ventura Police Department to reduce intoxicated driving incidents that start at Downtown bars.

Building on the success of the first "DUI Summit for Ventura County" last year, the County applied for, and received, a grant award totaling $182,000 from the California Office of Traffic Safety for strategies to support local business compliance with alcohol sales and service laws, and reach young adults with DUI prevention messages. A key component of the project involves collaboration with the Ventura Police Department, who will conduct periodic compliance checks with the management of bars and restaurants, especially on high volume weekends, to deter over-service and encourage safe transportation options.

The grant goals are aimed at reducing injuries and fatalities by at least 15%, with the cooperation of key businesses. "We know that Downtown Ventura is the entertainment epicenter for much of Ventura County, and this collaboration is aimed at supporting businesses and patrons to make good decisions. When you think about it, a $15 cab fare is nothing compared to a $10,000 DUI arrest," says Patrick Zarate, Division Manager for Alcohol and Drug Programs at Ventura County Behavioral Health Department. "The goal is to drive down these completely preventable losses- and our data suggest that the staff and policies of local bars can make a difference" The grant provides funding for specialized training for bartenders and servers, and for the development of local media messages designed to encourage safe transportation home from local establishments, especially during late night hours. This is complemented by enhanced enforcement of alcohol laws on selected weekends by Ventura Police. Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


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