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Police amping up New Year’s Eve DUI enforcement after deadly Palm Springs collision

After a deadly Palm Springs collision involving 5 vehicles Monday with a driver suspected by police of being under the influence, law enforcement is gearing up for the annual increase in incidents related to drunk driving that surround New Year's Eve festivities.

"It definitely goes up during the holidays," said PSPD Lt. William Hutchinson. "If you know that you're going to be impaired and you feel that at all, turn the keys over, make sure you get a ride, make sure you call a friend, think responsibly."

Hutchinson said enforcement will be increasing as celebrations roll out to ring in 2022.

"Any time we look at New Year's Eve, we're always bringing additional Office of Traffic Safety grants out, so officers are working overtime or 24/7, we've got DUI enforcement teams, traffic enforcement teams, we've got DUI checkpoints," he said.

The driver suspected of DUI in Monday's crash that killed one person and hospitalized four is facing a murder charge. Police say that's because the person had two prior DUI's. "You think you just had one too many and you can make life-changing decisions as we saw yesterday," Hutchinson said.

Local attorney Walter Clark used to prosecute DUI cases. He says the criminal justice system fails to prevent them.

"One person or more dies every hour from a DUI," Clark said. "We know that increasing punishment hasn't worked. Law enforcement does a good job, but they're facing an uphill battle."

Clark's personal injury law firm is offering to reimburse anyone too drunk to drive on New Year's Eve from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.

He said if you see someone who doesn't look like they should drive, he'll pay for the ride. "Youre really not able, after a couple of drinks, to make a good decision," Clark said.

To participate, a person must claim a reimbursement coupon online at Only cab, Uber, or Lyft rides taken on the night of New Year’s Eve from 10:00 PM to 3:00 AM (of the following day) are eligible. The ride is limited to a one-way ride of up to 50 miles or $50 per ride (whichever comes first) from a bar or restaurant to a safe location, like a hotel or residence, within the Coachella Valley cities of Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Desert Hot Springs, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Bermuda Dunes, Indio, and Coachella. Participants must be at least 21 years of age and have a valid driver’s license. Limit one reimbursement per household for the advertised period.

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Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.


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