DUI arrests up, related deaths down for weekend

Alcohol-related arrests were up on California’s highways over the holiday weekend in comparison to last year. But that is a good thing, according to the California Highway Patrol.

While more than 37 million Americans were expected to travel this holiday weekend, according to the California State Automobile Association, DUI-related deaths were down from last year. The CHP had arrested 1,024 impaired drivers across the state through Saturday in comparison to 955 last year during the same period, 77 of them in the Bay Area.

CHP Officer Mike Wright said that while there had been 10 deaths reported by Sunday, at the same time last year there were 16. He attributed the decrease to the higher arrestrate.

“We’ll have officers in cars and instead of having a beat they will be simply assigned to finding DUI drivers,” he said. “When your one task is to find drunks, it is very efficient … you become a shark … and you are not distracted by other things.”

In San Francisco, there was at least one alcohol-related death on the roadways Saturday when 25-year-old Daly City resident Jacob Martinez was killed by a suspected drunken driver who struck his car on Interstate 80 just west of Seventh Street.

On Friday, Russell Kalazan, a 19-year-old from Tracy, along with a female in the same car, died after a head-on crash on Lake Merced Boulevard, according to the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office. The name of the woman had not been released by Sunday, and the cause of the accident and the victims’ deaths remained under investigation. A female in the other car was injured and transported to a local hospital.

sfarooq@examiner.com

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