Although New Year’s Eve gets the blame for the holiday with the most DUI fatalities, actually it runs a distant second to Thanksgiving. Family holidays are wonderful times to be together, but they also can create situations that can lead to excessive drinking.
Every 30 minutes someone is killed in an alcohol-related accident. In fact, Americans who drink and drive after holiday parties and celebrations make the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s one of the year’s most deadly and dangerous seasons due to alcohol-related crashes. Over 17, 500 persons die unnecessarily due to bad driving choices.
Tragically, consequences of driving while under the influence cannot always been corrected. One example is Felipe Navarro Orona who was driving the shoulder of the I-5 freeway at 3am one morning. He failed to see two men changing a tire in front of him until it was too late. One man died at the scene from blunt force trauma to his head, body and legs. The other man was seriously injured but is expected to survive his injuries.
Orona has now pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and other serious charges. He faces a maximum 13 year jail sentence in the penalty phase. One careless act has changed the lives of three men and their families forever.
The one deterrent for drunken driving here in Orange County that seems to be effective is sobriety checkpoints. Since their inception, fatalities and serious injury accidents have been lowered. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department has just received a three-year state grant for $874,852 to combat intoxicated drivers during various holiday seasons. The grant helps to supplement local law enforcement budgets and assist with extra holiday related expenses.
The major checkpoint season is the period between Thanksgiving and New Years, but one day enforcement targets will include Super Bowl Sunday, St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, and Memorial /Independence Day long weekends.
A DUI arrest in the State of California means automatic suspension of your license; impound of your car, higher insurance, ignition locks in some counties and maybe some jail time. It’s just not worth the aggravation. If you are convicted, it is mandatory that your car will have some type of ignition interlock device placed on your automobile.
To avoid getting a DUI this holiday season, follow these few driving safety tips:
• Plan ahead and always designate a sober driver before the holiday party or celebration begins • Don’t even think about getting behind the wheel of your vehicle if you’ve been out drinking • Call a taxi or use mass transit! Or how about getting a sober friend or family member to come and get you • If you are able, stay where you are and sleep it off until you are sober. Many office parties are held in hotels for this reason • If you’re hosting a party this season, make sure your guests do not drive intoxicated.
James Ballidis is the managing attorney for Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie, a firm devoted to advancing the rights of auto accident victims. IF you need assistance with a legal matter call 1 888 752-7474.