The California Highway Patrol made hundreds of DUI arrests across the state over the Fourth of July weekend, even as state officials discouraged holiday travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Officers arrested 738 suspected impaired drivers between 6:01 p.m. Friday and 11:59 p.m. Sunday, CHP officials said Tuesday. At least 36 people were killed in crashes statewide.
Last year, 589 DUI arrests were made and a dozen people were killed in crashes between the night of July 3 and the morning of July 5, according to CHP.
When extended through the weekend, 1,317 drivers were arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol over a period of four-and-a-half days. DUI-related crashes were also linked to 36 deaths last year.
Comparatively, this year’s maximum enforcement period was two days shorter than in 2019, as the holiday fell on Thursday, CHP noted.
One key difference this year was that fewer holiday travelers were expected to hit the roads as the California Department of Public Health discouraged gatherings and driving long distances for vacation to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
Ahead of the enforcement period, CHP officials said they had seen an increase in citations for excessive speeding on California roads over the past few months due to light traffic that resulted from stay-at-home orders issued in mid-March.
During the Memorial Day weekend enforcement, for instance, 458 drivers were cited by CHP officers for speeding in excess of 100 mph, according to the agency. That was an increase of 173% compared to the same period in 2019.