The Winters Police Department (WPD) recently received a grant of $106,643 from the California Highway Patrol (CHP) Cannabis Tax Fund Grant Program for the education, prevention and enforcement of impaired driving laws.
Winters Police Chief John P. Miller said this grant includes a DUI vehicle, as well as training for DUI detection, standardized field sobriety testing, drug influence and drug recognition expert training. The vehicle, a Dodge Charger “slick top,” has been ordered and the directed enforcement programs are set to begin on July 1.
During the pandemic there was a “stand down” on parking enforcement in Winters. Police officers wrote fewer moving violations to minimize personal encounters with drivers, except for DUIs and more egregious violations and public safety issues.
Miller said once the county entered the orange tier then enforcement activities resumed to normal. Traffic enforcement, contrary to common belief, is not a revenue generating activity. The majority of fines and assessments go primarily to the state, county and courts with small portions of base fines going to the Traffic Safety Fund which can only be used for traffic safety.
According to Miller, Winters suffered three fatal collisions last year; two with a primary collision factor of DUI and the third with drugs involved, but that was not the primary collision factor.
Dacey Havens, who owned Winters Tow Service for 10 years until selling in 2019, said his company was on call rotation with the CHP and responded to many I-505 calls over the years. Havens was quick to point out that alcohol was frequently an associated factor.
Miller noted that year-to-date WPD has issued 110 moving violations and has handed out 24 warnings. He said officers consider various safety factors when deciding whether to issue a citation or a warning. In 2020, 123 moving violations and 17 warnings were issued in contrast to 2019, the last “normal” non-pandemic year, when 426 citations and 100 warnings were issued.
Nationally, traffic deaths spiked. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, (NHTSA), for all of 2020, 38,680 people died on U.S. roads – up 7.2 percent from 2019, even though their preliminary data indicates Americans drove 13 percent fewer miles.