Petaluma police cracking down on holiday DUIs

PETALUMA — DUI enforcement officers put their training into action during the four-day Thanksgiving holiday.

The night before Thanksgiving brought repeated calls for police services at the bars and restaurants of Petaluma. Ten calls reporting fights in front of downtown bars lead to two arrests for driving under the influence and three arrests for public drunkenness. One arrestee, Adrian Elrod, was also charged with assaulting a police officer.

At one Petaluma bar, Bryanna Silva was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon after she allegedly pulled a knife on bar patrons, slicing one in the arm.

That same night, Nov. 24, 19-year-old Robert Lindt of Petaluma rolled his truck on Fair Street in front of Petaluma High School. Neither he nor the passenger were injured, but Lindt was taken to county jail on suspicion of DUI.

Petaluma’s DUI enforcement officers have been schooled in detection and are specifically assigned to focus on DUI offenders, explains Sgt. Ken Savano.

“Those that work with habitual offenders have received additional training on the challenges that face alcoholics as well as accepted and proven treatment techniques that allow officers to communicate with them at their level,” Savano said. “(Alcoholics Anonymous) treatment methods adopted by the court are common knowledge among officers who work specifically with repeat and habitual offenders. These officers who receive additional training work directly in the traffic unit and have a much higher awareness level of the population of DUI offenders because they are constantly dealing with them.”

In anticipation of the potential increase in DUI driving during the holiday season, city police have stepped up their activities.  On Nov. 20, officers approached the Petaluma home of DUI offender Robert Kapus, 30, suspecting that he was in violation of his probation, which required that he not possess or use alcohol.

Kapus refused the officers entry into his house and fled through a bedroom window, leaving an 11-year old boy alone in the house. The boy’s mother was down the street at a friend’s residence and had given officers permission to enter the house to check on the boy.

Two days later, officers obtained an arrest warrant for Kapus and arrested him at his job in San Rafael, booking him at county jail with bail set at $52,500.

On the same day of the Kapus arrest, two DUI crashes brought officers to the scene. Around 6:30 p.m., police said an extremely intoxicated Gustavo Zaragoza-Vega, 22, crashed his car into the Mervyn’s building in the Washington Square Shopping Center at South McDowell Boulevard and Maria Drive.

Zaragoza-Vega was arrested and booked with bail set at $5000. He is car was impounded for 30 days. He had never been issued a driver’s license.

The following morning at 2:35 a.m., Point Reyes resident Benito Diaz, 23, drove a 2002 Mitsubishi Eclipse off the road near D Street and Pinnacle Drive. Diaz was booked at county jail with bail set at $26,000. Officers determined Diaz’s blood alcohol level was approximately .091 percent.

Even with all the recent activity, there have 116 fewer DUI arrests this year in Petaluma than in 2009, when police arrested 533 on suspicion of intoxicated driving. DUI collisions are also down 27 percent from last year.

Petaluma police cracking down on holiday DUIs was last modified: June 28th, 2012 by admin
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