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Police: Grant Will Reduce DUI Deaths and Injuries

A $75,000 grant was awarded to the Newport Beach Police Department by the California Office of Traffic Safety for anti-DUI programs.

A new state grant will help the Newport Beach Police Department get a tighter grasp on DUI drivers and hopefully minimize the number of alcohol-related accidents, deaths and injuries on city streets, officials reported Wednesday.

The $75,000 grant was awarded to the Newport Beach Police Department by the California Office of Traffic Safety. Newport Beach police Sgt. Spencer Arnold says the grant will be used to put more officers out patrolling streets and looking for DUI drivers.

“While the numbers of impaired accident victims is decreasing, we still have more work to do," Arnold said. "One fatality due to impaired driving is one too many."

According to OTS officials, drunk and drugged driving are among America’s deadliest crimes. In 2010, 791 people were killed and over 24,000 injured in alcohol and drug-impaired crashes in California. That same year in Newport Beach, three people were killed and 568 injured in these tragic crashes.

Christopher J. Murphy, OTS director, says DUI and Driver's License checkpoints have been a major reason behind the vast reduction in DUI deaths statewide between 2006 and 2010.

“But since the tragedy of DUI accounts for nearly one third of traffic fatalities, Newport Beach needs the high visibility enforcement and public awareness that this grant will provide,” Murphy said.

Officials say crashes involving alcohol drop by an average of 20 percent when well-publicized checkpoints are conducted often enough. Murphy says checkpoints have proven to be the most effective of any of the DUI enforcement strategies, while yielding considerable cost savings of $6 for every $1 spent.

In addition to the DUI checkpoints, the grant will also help educate the community about the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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