— “I was wrong.” “I thought I was fine.” “I should have known better.” “I lost everything.” These are some of the messages the public will see in a new anti-DUI public awareness campaign announced today at a news conference in Fresno by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) and California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), in collaboration with the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and City of Fresno.
The “Don’t Be the ‘I’ in DUI” campaign will run through the first week of January, and features a new video in English and Spanish on digital platforms, audio messages on radio and streaming services, and digital billboards. The campaign focuses on how nobody wants to be the one who must explain why they drove impaired, got a DUI, and now live with the consequences.
“Too many people have experienced the death of loved ones, friends, or co-workers because one person failed to be responsible and drove under the influence,” OTS Director Barbara Rooney said. “Driving impaired leads to deadly, tragic consequences. We implore drivers to take personal responsibility and don’t be the ‘I’ in DUI.”
In 2021, 1,370 people died in California in alcohol-involved impaired driving crashes, nearly a third of all traffic deaths, and representing a 16% increase from the previous year.
“Impaired driving has had devastating consequences for individuals, families and communities here in Fresno,” City of Fresno Mayor and former Chief of the Fresno Police Department Jerry Dyer said. “Our community deserves better, and we encourage everyone to get to their family and friends safely this holiday season by never driving impaired.”
So far this year, eight people have died in DUI-related crashes in the city of Fresno, up from six people killed over the same period last year. In Fresno alone, more than 2,000 DUI arrests were made this year.
“The Fresno Police Department maintains a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to offenders driving under the influence,” Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama said. “Those who choose to drink and drive not only senselessly endanger themselves, but everyone else on the roadway. The safety of our community is always our highest priority, and during this holiday season we will be increasing our efforts to deter drunk driving and hold accountable those who choose to.”
To help drivers reach their holiday destinations safely, the CHP will implement Maximum Enforcement Periods (MEPs) through the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
“The CHP is dedicated to keeping California’s roadways safe for all who use them. With the holidays approaching, the CHP is intensifying enforcement efforts to quickly remove impaired drivers from our roads,” CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee said. “This holiday season, we are asking the motoring public to commit to making responsible decisions behind the wheel and help ensure that everyone arrives home safely.”
The OTS provides grant funding for more than 200 law enforcement agencies throughout the state that will join the CHP and deploy additional officers over the holidays to stop suspected impaired drivers. From October 2022 to September 2023, the OTS funded more than 5,500 DUI enforcement operations throughout the state, resulting in more than 6,300 DUI arrests.
Impaired driving also puts Caltrans workers, firefighters, emergency medical personnel and tow truck operators at risk as they conduct invaluable and often life-saving work on the side of our roads.
The CHP, OTS, Caltrans and City of Fresno remind drivers that driving under the influence of any substance that affects your ability to drive safely is illegal. If you plan on drinking or consuming drugs that may impair, plan on a designated sober driver, staying the night with family or friends, or using public transportation. Remember, always choose a sober way to go.