DPS roadblocks began on Monday — already some arrests
Department of Public Safety has begun its annual holiday enforcement program, which includes setting up roadblocks at designated unannounced locations in an effort to reduce drunk driving during the holiday season and to keep peace in the community.
The enforcement program, which is also part of a National Highway Safety initiative, usually lasts until the morning of Jan. 2 in the New Year, but this time around it’s extended through the morning of Jan. 4, 2017, because Jan. 3, 2017 is the Inauguration Day for the re-elected administration of Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga and Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga — for their second four-year term.
Deputy Police Commissioner Vaimaga Maiava said the main goal of the program, as well as that of the Police Commissioner, Save Liuato Tuitele, is to put safety first not only for motorists but also people attending holiday parties at various locations island-wide to ensure that residents return home safely, incident and/ or accident free.
As the holiday season kicks into full gear, Maiava called on the community, to not drink and drive — “if you drink” alcohol, don’t drive, but stay home and celebrate!
For those attending parties where alcohol is consumed, “always remember to maintain peace and harmony in our community;” and if a driver ends up having too much to drink, call DPS for assistance to take you home.
Also suggested is to have a designated driver (DD), before heading out to party; and don’t forget: Local taxi stands plan to work long hours during this weekend and the New Year weekend due to this time of the year.
“It is so very important that American Samoa has a safe and happy Christmas and New Year’s celebration,” Maiava told Samoa News.
He also calls on parents to make sure they always know where their children are, especially their teenage children, to ensure that teenagers don’t consume alcohol, as this has been a big issue re teenagers. Additionally, make sure that parents know where the car keys are at all times, so the teenager don’t take off with the car to go party.
Due to the holiday enforcement, all police officers, including leaders are not taking any leave time for the holidays; and on behalf of the Police Commissioner and DPS personnel, Maiava wishes the people of American Samoa a safe and happy Christmas and New Year.
DPS Office of Highway Safety has been running advertisements in broadcast and print media since the beginning of the week, reminding motorists not to drink and drive.
“It’s so hard to have ‘Happy Holidays’ when you’re arrested for drunk driving,” said one of the DPS advertisements in Samoa News.
The holiday enforcement began Monday morning and by the evening, five people were taken into custody by police and the arrestees made their initial appearance in District Court the next day. Of the arrestees, three were taken into custody for public peace disturbance and two of them for allegedly driving while under the influence of alcohol.
Court records show that the two arrestees for DUI have no record of similar offense, so the pair were released on their own recognizance without bail, under several conditions, which include not consuming alcohol and prohibited from driving while their cases are pending in court.
For the other three arrestees, they included Chris Valaau who is charged with two misdemeanor counts of public peace disturbance and third degree assault. Valaau, who was intoxicated, is accused of slapping a youth in the face.
Its allegedly that the youth swore at Valaau for making too much noise and that got the defendant angry and he assaulted the youth, who’s age was not mentioned in court information. The incident occurred when Valaau was at his brother’s home. The court set Valaau’s bail at $500 but there was no confirmation yesterday, if he was able to post bail.
For the other two cases, both defendants, including a woman who graduated last Friday from the American Samoa Community College, were each charged with public peace disturbance. Both defendants were released on their own recognizance.
All five defendants are scheduled to return to court early next month for their next court hearing.
(Original Samoan stories were in yesterday’s Lali section of Samoa News)