Huntington tops DUI collisions list
Huntington Beach ranked No. 1 among California cities of its size in per-capita alcohol-related traffic collisions in 2009, according to numbers recently released by the state Office of Traffic Safety.
The report, which came out in January, ranks Huntington above 55 other cities with populations from 100,000 to 250,000.
A total of 195 people were killed or injured in alcohol-related collisions in H.B., according to the report.
Huntington has been in the top 10 for per-capita DUI accidents for the last half-decade, ranking sixth in 2005, eighth in 2006, seventh in 2007 and fourth in 2008.
Lt. Russell Reinhart of the Huntington Beach Police Department said the city was aware its DUI accident numbers were high in 2009, but the ranking came as a surprise.
“I don’t think we knew we were No. 1,” he said. “We knew our numbers were high.”
In the first half of 2010, officials compiled a report on how to address drunk-driving problems in the city. Among the new tactics adopted were to track the locations where drunk-driving suspects had their last drink and to notify managers who were over-serving customers.
The city also considered a controversial plan to post photos of repeat drunk drivers on the Police Department’s Facebook page. The City Council voted 4 to 3 against the plan in January.
Spokesman Chris Cochran said the annual report for 2009 came out later than usual and that numbers for 2010 were not available yet. Reinhart said DUI incidents had gone down slightly in recent months, but he was used to seeing the numbers fluctuate year by year.
“We haven’t seen a trend,” he said.
Cochran said one bright spot on the report was that the HBPD had made 1,558 DUI arrests in 2009 — the equivalent of 1.28% of the city’s population, although the report did not specify how many of the arrestees lived here.
The state average, he said, was 0.9%, which implied that Huntington police were aggressive in fighting DUIs.
Huntington’s No. 1 ranking, Cochran said, would make it more likely than other cities to receive grants to combat the crime.
Reinhart said the city had successfully applied for grants from the Office of Traffic Safety each of the last few years, with state funds going toward DUI checkpoints, saturation patrols and other measures.
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