Local deputy honored for DUI arrests

COAST CITIES — A sheriff’s deputy was honored last week by an organization that aims to keep drunk drivers off the streets, and one local deputy received the top award for the second year in a row for making the most driving under the influence arrests in the county.
Deputy Dave Toner of the Encinitas Sheriff’s Station arrested what amounts to nearly one drunk driver every other day, as his number of arrests for 2010 totaled 187.
In 2009, Toner made 201 DUI arrests.
The Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, awards have been recognizing law enforcement personnel for more than 20 years, and on March 9, the San Diego County chapter of MADD honored Toner with its top award.
“He has just had an outstanding number of years in a row with the apprehension of drunk drivers,” said Sgt. Mark O’Connor, of the traffic division for Encinitas Sheriff’s Station.
O’Connor said that Toner has made 669 arrests of drunk drivers in only four years.
Each year, MADD invites county law enforcement agencies to participate in their awards ceremony by sending each agency a request to nominate their most deserving officers.
Paula Myers, a longtime representative for MADD, said that because Toner was the top award recipient in San Diego County, he would be participating in the state awards ceremony held later this month.
He is receiving the MADD California Hero Award at a statewide law enforcement and community recognition event in Sacramento on March 26.
“We want to recognize them for the work they do in preventing injuries and saving lives,” Myers said. “Their heroic act is getting DUI drivers off the road.”
Traffic officers who patrol the streets are very important, and the awards from MADD are just a way of letting them know that they are very appreciated, she said.
The ceremony that was held at the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center in San Diego had more than 350 attendees, including Sheriff Bill Gore who spoke at the event and also handed out awards.
“It started as a breakfast and it’s grown into this big huge thing,” Myers said of the MADD awards ceremony.
The 2010 award recipients in North County:
— Deputy Kenneth Werner of the Vista station, 53 DUI arrests
— Deputy Tammy Bennetts of the San Marcos station, 43 DUI arrests
— California Highway Patrol Officer Joshua Cook of the Oceanside area, 97 DUI arrests
— Officer Dana Darling of the Oceanside Police Department, 78 DUI arrests
— Deputy Dave Toner of the Encinitas station, 187 DUI arrests
— Deputy Brenda Weibe of the Encinitas station, 108 DUI arrests
— Officer Robbie Snider of the Carlsbad Police Department, 63 DUI arrests
— Officer Thomas Venable of the Escondido Police Department, 140 DUI arrests
— Officer Ray Derouin of the Cal State San Marcos station, nine DUI arrests
But Toner is no stranger to the award, as he also won it last year.
But he also received the Christopher D. Lydon Memorial Award, which was presented by Lydon’s father.
In 1998, Lydon was a CHP officer who was killed on duty while pursuing a drunk driver, Myers said.
Lydon’s parents created the Christopher Lydon award, she said.
There are only between five and 10 nominees each year for that particular award, and when the award application is turned in, it includes things such as the officer’s hobbies and devotion to family, she said.
“It was Dave Toner today,” Myers said of the person who received the Lydon Top Arresting Award.
She said that Toner was grateful and thankful for receiving the award.
“The Lydon award took him by surprise,” she said.
O’Connor said that Toner has been a deputy for 19 years and that he is good at looking at every aspect when a person is driving.
He said that Toner might pull over a person who has a tail light out, but also talk to them and notice if they have slurred speech or smell of alcohol.
“It’s pretty easy to select him (for the award). He had the highest number of (arrests of) any agency in the county,” he said.
Toner supports the other deputies in the training office and maintains the handheld portable devices (a breathalyzer) that certain DUI offenders are required to keep in their vehicle, he said.
“The quality of his reports are wonderfully written,” O’Connor said.
Kristine Costa was present to congratulate law enforcement individuals as they received their awards.
Costa’s husband, Eddie, 33, was struck and killed by a drink driver when he was riding his bike on Alpine Boulevard in December 2008.
Eddie Costa was the victim of a hit and run, and Travis Weber was apprehended the next day when he returned near the scene of the crime in his truck while going to a bar near where a candlelight vigil was being held for Eddie.

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