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Santa Maria Police see a spike in DUI arrests

Posted at 6:35 PM, Feb 20, 2020

The Santa Maria Police Department has been busy this year with quite an increase in traffic collisions and DUI arrests.

Police say as of Wednesday, there have been 388 traffic collisions, and 144 DUI arrests from the beginning of the year until February 14, 2020.

That is more than double the amount of arrests made during the same time period last year.

Police said alcohol is not the only substance responsible for the increase.

"We've seen an uptake in drug related DUI's. Pills... other forms of drugs... as well as recreational marijuana. So we want the public to know that just because marijuana is legal for them to use recreationally it is still not legal to get behind the wheel of a car and drive," said Sgt. Michael McGehee.

Police say they focus heavily on prevention and proactive DUI enforcement.

While it is hard for them say exactly why more people are being pulled over, Sgt. McGehee believes more traffic could be a contributing factor.

One community member is shocked to hear more people are getting arrested for DUIs despite their being so many ride share options on how to get home safely.

"It is just insane that people do that and even after one drink you shouldn't even get in it (a car) at all. One drink, two drinks, a beer... I think it is still really really bad," said Canchola.

In addition to their regular patrol schedules, the Santa Maria Police Department also has operations specifically targeted to catch DUI drivers.

"We have a lot of nights where we work Friday... Saturday nights. Occasionally a Sunday and we are out there looking for DUI drivers to keep the public safe," said Sgt. McGehee.

While some locals said they are glad police are catching violators, they hope the numbers go down.

"Hopefully it goes down in numbers and we have less arrests," said Lisa Marie Perez.

Santa Maria police said they have also noticed an uptake in drivers running red lights.

They are encouraging everyone to be safe and smart on the roadways.