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DUI arrests spike, violent incidents drop

Modified: Thursday, Jan 5th, 2017

California Highway Patrol officer Trista Drake talks Monday about the 13 DUI arrests and a fatal crash that occurred in Santa Cruz County over the New Year holiday weekend. (Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY — A man was killed when his vehicle crashed on New Year’s Eve, just 45 minutes before midnight, California Highway Patrol officer Trista Drake said.

The victim, 26, was driving a 1989 Toyota pickup at about 11:15 p.m. on a private dirt road at 23981 Highway 9 when he lost control, crashed and was ejected from the vehicle.

The man's friends placed him in a vehicle and drove him to the property entrance to meet emergency personnel. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The victim was reportedly not wearing a seatbelt. The crash is under investigation, but officers believe that alcohol was involved.

In addition, CHP officers arrested 13 people during the weekend surrounding New Year’s Eve, double the number from last year, Drake said.

The DUI arrests came during a “maximum enforcement” period that ended on Monday at 7 p.m.

Santa Cruz Police Department spokeswoman Joyce Blaschke said that the new year came without any violent incidents during the annual downtown festivities. The celebration typically brings thousands of people for a do-it-yourself fete that ends with a city-sponsored countdown at the city’s clock tower.

According to Blaschke, the SCPD deployed additional officers throughout the city, particularly along the downtown corridor between 5 p.m. on Dec. 31 and 5 a.m. on Jan. 1.

Officers responded to 160 calls for service, which is nearly equal to last year’s 161 calls during that time.

The cold temperatures, which dipped to 41 degrees, may have kept crowd numbers low, with approximately 2,000 packing the city streets, compared to last year’s crowd of approximately 3,500, Blaschke said.

Overall, arrests and citations in downtown Santa Cruz were down from 2016. This includes 12 total arrests, mostly consisting of public intoxication. That number is down from 28 last year, Blaschke said.

Police issued 19 citations, 11 of them for triple fines, the majority of which were for open containers of alcohol, Blaschke said.

Watsonville Police were unavailable for comment Monday. According to the police log, residents reported three vehicle burglaries, while four people were arrested for being drunk in public.

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