Interim District Attorney Summer Stephan speaks in front of a Chevrolet Tahoe driving off Sunset Cliffs by a drunk driver. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Law enforcement agencies throughout San Diego County warned Thursday of the dangers of alcohol- and drug-impaired driving over the long July 4 weekend amid increased fatalities.

“A simple plan at the beginning of the night can prevent devastation at the end,” said interim District Attorney Summer Stephan.

She said there have already been 14 DUI-related fatalities in the county this year, nearly as many as the 19 recorded in all of 2016 — an increase she termed “alarming.”

Agencies plan saturation patrols, extra staffing and at least four checkpoints during the four-day holiday weekend.

San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman vowed that if you drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, “you should expect to be caught and arrested by one of our officers.”

Stephan, Zimmerman and Asst. Sheriff Michael Barnett were joined by officers from Chula Vista, Escondido, Oceanside and the California Highway Patrol at a press conference on Mission Bay.

Barnett said drugs are increasingly a factor in impaired-driving accidents, with double the number of arrests so far in 2017.

“Driving while impaired by drugs is illegal and just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol,” he said.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.