California DUI lawyer citizen inquiry
100,000 Americans died in DUI, drunk driving or alcohol-related crashes.
California DUI - Drunk Driving crashes have become almost an accepted part of our world. Inexplicably, too many people are killed by California DUI - drunk drivers to elicit a sustained public outcry.
Of course, the key here is that California DUI - drunk driving -- arguably the greatest daily threat an entire family faces -- is preventable.
"It's absolutely senseless," Modesto Police Chief Roy Wasden said. "That's more than 46 people a day in this country, which is an astounding number. If we were killing 17,000 people a year with assault rifles, that would certainly get people's attention. But drunken driving doesn't create the social outcry. Because it's common, I think it becomes less noticeable. And that's hard to understand as you go and see the sorrow that flows to these families."
Anyone in a vehicle runs the risk of being in a California DUI or alcohol-related crash, and the likelihood probably is higher than many would believe. Odds are 1 in 3 that someone in your family will be involved in an alcohol-related crash during your lifetime. As many as one in five people driving after midnight are under the influence of alcohol, according to estimates from Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
"That's what's so scary about it," said Tom Killian, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol. "When you're traveling with your family on a county road doing 45 or 55 miles an hour, you're putting a lot of faith in that stranger coming the other way. What if that person has been drinking? You're about six to eight feet from a head-on collision, and in a split second that car has crossed the lane in front of you.
"I can't think of a bigger social problem, and I don't know what more we could do. Everyone knows the consequences and the devastation it causes. The message is out there. But still people make that choice, that conscious decision to drink and drive."
Make no mistake: California DUI is a social issue, not a law enforcement problem. Police are dependent on most people following most of the rules most of the time. When that doesn't happen, there is little the police can do. That can be seen locally, where California DUI arrests and alcohol-related crashes are on the rise.
During the first 10 months of this year, the CHP made 1,367 California DUI arrests throughout Stanislaus County, a 13 percent rise over the same period in 2006. Through August, CHP officers responded to 207 crashes with California DUI the primary collision factor, more than 8 percent higher than the same period in 2006.
Meanwhile, the Modesto Police Department, which has three officers dedicated solely to California DUI enforcement thanks to recent grants, is on pace to record a 19 percent gain in California DUI arrests this year, from 730 in 2006 to a projected 870 this year.
Still, no matter how many California Drunk Driving / DUI-focused officers hit the streets, the result has been the same: more California Drunk Driving / DUI arrests, not fewer people drinking and driving.
So, what is the solution? Is there one? Are we just doomed to live with this issue, hoping someone in our family isn't that one in three involved in a California DUI crash? Humor me here, but let's play the game, 'If I were in charge ...'
The solution envisioned by some would be simple, and costly. In addition to current penalties, those convicted of California Drunk Driving or DUI have the cars they were driving sold, with the proceeds going to fund more California DUI only officers and related programs. This would fairly punish rich and poor according to their means and remove the involved vehicles from the equation. Looking at Modesto alone, multiply 700 annual convictions by $10,000 per vehicle. That's $7 million toward enforcement, or 140 extra officers making $50,000 a year. Imagine that in every jurisdiction across the country.
Of course, there are reasons this wouldn't work. One is that many cars aren't owned by their drivers. But the point is that something more drastic is needed, because what we're doing now isn't working. Despite greater enforcement, larger fines and skyrocketing insurance rates, 17,000 people die every year in alcohol- related crashes. And everything that's been done in 15 years hasn't lowered that number.