If you’ve driven the freeways around Orange County lately, you’ve probably noticed that most of the Caltrans signs that reads “‘Report Drunk Drivers. Call 911’. The Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) has received a 4 million dollar grant to assist 103 local California communities with special holiday DUI enforcement efforts. The reason is clear- each year over 17,000 people are killed in drunken driving crashes. An alcohol-related crash kills someone every 31 minutes and injures people every two minutes.
December is National Drunk and Drugged Prevention Month. Most drinking and driving unfortunately goes undetected with no consequences. In 2006 nearly 1.4 million drivers were arrested for suspicion of DUI, but that’s less than 1% of the 159 million Americans that admit to drinking under the influence. Unfortunately at this time of year, 50% of all crashes that occur on New Year’s Eve are alcohol related. That’s why it s a problem both here in Orange County and throughout California.
Just last week, the Automobile Club of Southern California came out with staggering new DUI statistics involving women. Since 1998, the number of women in California, aged 21-24 that have been involved in alcohol-related injury collisions is up a whopping 116%. For men the injury accidents were up just 39%, but that still means a lot of California drivers involved with DUI.
Another disturbing California trend was women who were killed or injured in this same type of DUI crash. The facts show a 46% increase of severe injuries or death. These are disturbing figures that leave analysts puzzled. Are young women emulating trendy stars like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan? Are women just drinking more and not making coherent choices? No one knows, but now women are starting to drink at younger and younger ages and now more young girls are becoming addicted to alcohol.
This holiday season, there will be more checkpoints than ever. These DUI checks will cover Orange County from Huntington Beach to San Clemente. There is a growing trend of coastal cities being hotspots for social drinking, so in turn, that’s where a majority of the checkpoints will be.
Already this holiday season, we have had several DUI accidents here in Orange County, and one unfortunate wrongful death. The accident happened on the 55 freeway near Orange. A drunk driver slammed into the back of another car at over 85 mph and killed the other driver instantly. The drunk tried to flee the scene but was eventually caught by the California Highway Patrol.
Last year, Governor Schwarzenneger signed a bill that would strengthen the law against first time DUI offenders. The bill requires everyone getting a driver’s license to sign a statement indicating they know that driving under the influence is dangerous and could result in death. The statement goes on to read that if they choose to drive impaired and kill a person, they understand they can be charged with murder. The bill had the backing of Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and the AAA.
In the state of California, to be arrested for drunken driving means your blood alcohol content or BAC must be at level 08. Basically, this is just a figure that represents the percentage of alcohol that is present in the body.
If you or a loved one has been injured in alcohol-related personal injury case, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced attorney immediately.