Orange County law enforcement authorities, armed with a tougher legal standard for drunkenness, arrested at least 366 people on suspicion of driving while under the influence of alcohol over the Labor Day weekend.
Three people were killed on the county's freeways during the long weekend in two traffic accidents that the California Highway Patrol said involved drunk driving.
There were scores of minor alcohol-related traffic accidents reported throughout the county between 6 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Tuesday, officials said.
The CHP's three Orange County bureaus reported that 167 motorists were arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol on the county's freeways.
In Westminster, CHP officers reported 59 arrests, more than double the number the station made last Labor Day weekend, and the most arrests over a three-day weekend in years, CHP Officer Lyle Whitten said.
Whitten attributed much of the increase in arrests to more vigorous enforcement and a new law that lowered the legal standard for drunkenness to a a blood-alcohol level of 0.08%. The previous standard was 0.10%.
Whitten said 9% of the Labor Day weekend arrests were of persons who met the lower standard. "They would have driven away last year," Whitten said.
Whitten also said, however, that it appears that more people are drinking and driving, despite heavy advertising campaigns aimed to discourage the illegal practice.
"Drunks are out there killing innocent people," Whitten said. "That's the reason we are putting so much emphasis on drunk driving. (But) you'd think DUI would be reduced, not increased, because of enhanced enforcement."
CHP Officer Angel Johnson said the Santa Ana office arrested 63 motorists suspected of driving under the influence, five less than last year.
And CHP Officer Ken Daily said officers stationed in the San Juan Capistrano office made 45 DUI arrests, compared to 25 last Labor Day weekend.
Police in two cities--Laguna Beach and Brea--set up one-day sobriety checks, making 32 drunk-driving arrests over the weekend.
"It was a great weekend," Laguna Beach Police Sgt. Raymond Lardie said.
The Sheriff's Department and the Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach police departments each reported making more than 15 DUI arrests.
Police in Cypress, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Irvine, La Habra, La Palma, Placentia, Seal Beach, San Clemente, Tustin and Westminster all reported arresting fewer than 10 drivers suspected of being drunk.
"That's pretty low considering there was special enforcement out," Garden Grove Police Lt. Ron Weigand said. "People were obviously acting good."
Santa Ana and Orange police officials said they were unable to provide the number of DUI arrests made in their cities over the weekend.
The only city that reported making no arrests of drunk-driving suspects was Los Alamitos.