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St. Helens Police Department's DUII awareness campaign lands big snowy monster in jail; Santa Claus assists St. Helens officers with arrest

ST. HELENS POLICE DEPARTMENT PHOTO - Santa Claus, with assistance from St. Helens police officers, arrested Abominable T. Snowman for impaired driving and placed him in the Columbia County Jail on Monday, Dec. 18. Snowman remained in jail custody as of Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 20.

In the early morning hours of Monday, Dec. 18, officers of the St. Helens Police Department made their first impaired driving arrest as part of an increased effort to keep St. Helens streets safe this holiday season, a press release from the police agency noted Wednesday.

The St. Helens Police Department is participating in a high visibility enforcement (HVE) campaign to crackdown on drunk, drugged and high drivers during the holiday season. The campaign increases the number of officers on the streets between Dec. 15 and Jan. 1, some of the most dangerous driving days of the year in the United States.

"Impaired driving has become an increasingly dangerous occurrence in St. Helens during the winter holiday season," stated Sgt. Jose Castilleja in the release. "Our goal is simple, to deter people from driving after they've been drinking or using drugs, including marijuana, in order to save lives."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as many as 10,000 Americans die each year in alcohol-related crashes. Over a five-year period, almost 4,000 people died in drunk driving crashes during December.

Officer Claus, St. Helens Police Department's new honorary patrol officer, is participating in the campaign as well. At 8 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 18, Officer Claus assisted St. Helens officers with a traffic stop of St. Helens resident Abominable T. Snowman after receiving calls of a driver swerving between lanes on Columbia Boulevard and sideswiping a parked vehicle.

Abominable was arrested on charges of DUII and reckless driving after his blood alcohol level measured at .16 percent, twice the legal limit in Oregon.

"Mr. Snowman admitted that he was driving home from a holiday party where he drank a little too much peppermint schnapps," Claus stated. "He thought that he would be okay to drive the short distance back to his house. Clearly, that was not the case."

Abominable is scheduled to be arraigned at the Columbia County Courthouse on Wednesday, Dec. 20 and faces up to 365 days in jail and a maximum fine of $6,250.

"Mr. Snowman is very lucky that more serious property damage or injury to a pedestrian or fellow driver did not occur," Claus stated. "However, his holiday season will be significantly less cheery this year as he faces potential jail time and fines. We hope that he can be a lesson to anyone that may consider drinking and driving during the holidays."

Keep your holiday celebrations festive this season by following these important tips from Columbia County law enforcement agencies:

Plan ahead. If you are planning to drink, plan ahead: volunteer to be a designated driver, designate a sober driver or arrange for a taxi to pick you up at a set time. • Be responsible. If you are hosting a party, offer plenty of non-alcoholic beverages and help your guests be responsible. Don't let someone who has been drinking get behind the wheel. • Walking or bicycling after dark? Wear bright clothes to help you stand out. • Buckle up, every trip, every time. • Drive defensively at all times.

"Whatever you drive, whether it's a sleigh or a car, be smart and safe this holiday season. If you're impaired, you will be arrested," Sgt. Castilleja noted in the release.

In addition to extra traffic patrols by St. Helens police officers, the community also has a role in keeping St. Helens roads safer. People are urged to immediately report dangerous and intoxicated drivers in Columbia County by calling 503-397-1521 or 911.

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