Y-S drunken driving arrests rise
Yuba City's Town Square Fountain was the most prominent victim in a Christmas weekend that saw an increase in arrests for driving under the influence.
An allegedly drunken driver lost control of his car and hit the fountain, causing what one city official called significant damage.
The California Highway Patrol and Sutter County Sheriff's Department reported increases in DUI arrests over last Christmas. No statistics were immediately available for other Yuba-Sutter law enforcement agencies, although arrests appeared greater based on jail booking information.
An officer was on routine patrol about 12:40 a.m. Saturday at Plumas Boulevard and Franklin Avenue when he saw Brian Daniel Watson, 23, drive through a stop sign at an estimated 50 mph, said Deputy Police Chief Jeff Webster.
Before the officer could activate the lights on top of his patrol car, Watson lost control of his Pontiac Grand Am on northbound Plumas Boulevard and entered the town square, said Webster.
City Parks Manager Gary Marler, who was called out in the middle of the night to help supervise the cleanup, said the car came to rest completely inside the fountain. The fountain's outer wall and inner bowl, as well as two benches, sustained damage, according to Marler and Public Works Director George Musallam.
The fountain was not operating at the time, but the water inside, which was polluted by oil and transmission fluid, had to be pumped out and taken to the city wastewater plant, said Marler.
Watson, who suffered a cut to his head, was the only person injured. A medical helicopter landed nearby and took him to Sutter Roseville Medical Center.
Watson initially was arrested for violating parole conditions. After he was released from the hospital, a drunken driving charge was added, said Webster.
Watson, of the 1500 block of Heather Drive, was being held Tuesday without bail in Sutter County Jail.
There was no immediate dollar estimate of damage to the fountain.
The CHP made eight DUI arrests between 5 p.m. Friday and midnight Monday, up two from the same period last year. One of the arrests came after a collision, said spokesman Jeff Larson, who reported no injuries.
In contrast to this year's increase in DUI arrests, there were only eight collisions compared to 15 last year, said Larson.
Sutter County Undersheriff J. Paul Parker said officers made five DUI arrests over the weekend, compared to two last year.
Larson said the CHP, Sheriff's Department and Yuba City Police Department will cooperate on a DUI checkpoint somewhere in Sutter County over the New Year's weekend. The day and time were not announced.
As it often does on major holidays, the CHP will step up traffic enforcement beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, with a “huge focus” on driving under the influence, said Larson.
The CHP is urging drivers to report suspected drunken driving by calling 911 on their cell phones, he said.
The Yuba County Sheriff's Department and police departments in Marysville and Wheatland made a total of five DUI arrests over the Christmas weekend, according to jail booking information.
Appeal-Democrat reporter Rob Young can be reached at 749-4710. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.