California DUI attorneys are told because hospital emergency rooms have long been a place where lives are saved on the spot, a new program being developed by the UC Davis Trauma Prevention Program will extend that lifesaving work by making sure law enforcement agencies know the blood-alcohol content of patients admitted after alcohol-related vehicle crashes.
When the system is fully developed, the Trauma Prevention Program will provide education on uniform and consistent reporting procedures at all 11 level I and level II trauma centers in inland Northern California. In addition, UC Davis Medical Center will develop a standardized hospital procedure for obtaining a legal blood-alcohol level and teaching it to the same trauma centers.
“Our project aims to help increase the number of DUI convictions for drivers involved in alcohol-related collisions,” said Christy Adams, program coordinator for the Trauma Prevention Program. “Increased convictions can ultimately lead to fewer alcohol-related crashes in the future.”
Funding for the new program is being provided by the California Office of Traffic Safety.
The new processes will show how to increase the number of legal blood-alcohol evidence samples obtained by health-care staff. In collaboration with California’s Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor, staff from the Trauma Prevention Program will instruct emergency and trauma physicians and nurses on how to report alcohol-impaired drivers to law enforcement agencies. The new collection and reporting procedures will be submitted to the Trauma Managers Association of California and the Emergency Medical Services Authority to ensure their widespread distribution and adoption by emergency departments throughout the state.
California had registered increasing numbers of alcohol-involved traffic deaths for several years prior to a 9.5 percent downturn in 2007. Even with that decline, 1,155 people died in California in 2007 as a result of a driver with a blood-alcohol content over the legal limit of .08.
“Currently, California’s trauma system has no uniform and consistent system for informing law enforcement agencies of impaired drivers involved in motor-vehicle collisions,” said Adams. “As it stands, law enforcement officers learn of collisions through 911 dispatches. After arriving on the scene of a collision, officers determine whether a driver is impaired and if a DUI citation is issued.”
However, if the severity of a driver’s injuries requires immediate transport to a trauma center, officers may not be able to make an immediate determination of the driver’s impairment. In addition, delays in the arrival of officers or the patient’s medical condition may hinder attempts to obtain a legal blood-alcohol sample, which is important for a driving-under-the-influence prosecution.
In minor collisions, impaired drivers may go to an emergency department without having called 911. In these cases, officers may not be notified of a collision involving an impaired driver.
The medical center’s development of the notification system will support the California Strategic Highway Safety Plan. The plan guides safety activities within California regarding all roadway users on all public roadways. One challenge listed in the plan is to reduce impaired-driving-related fatalities. Enlisting the aid of emergency and trauma physicians and nurses is one of the plan’s strategies for meeting this challenge.
One of the first steps that the Trauma Prevention Program will take under the new grant is to collect data on impaired drivers from UC Davis Medical Center. This data includes the blood-alcohol levels that are drawn automatically for all trauma patients. The UC Davis researchers will work with the California Department of Motor Vehicles to determine what happened to patients who registered a blood-alcohol level greater than .04. The object of this analysis is to seek evidence of repeat instances of impaired driving.
In related safety news, California Highway Patrol is designating Tuesday as Vehicle Occupant Restraint Day to let motorists know that seat belts save lives.
“More than 30 percent of all vehicle passengers killed statewide in 2007 and 2008 were not buckled up at the time of the collision,” CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said. “There’s no do-over for someone killed because they failed to buckle up.”
The CHP will be looking for anyone failing to buckle up while on the road on Tuesday.
Authorities estimate seat belt usage by California motorists to be at a record high of 95.7 percent. Still, the CHP wants to raise that percentage.
The CHP issued 204,187 citation to motorists and their passengers who failed to buckle up in 2008. This does not include the 17,076 tickets issued for child safety seat violations.
California law requires children younger than 6 years of age or weighing less than 60pounds to be properly secured in the back seat.
California DUI Lawyer Rick Mueller, a San Diego Drunk Driving / DWI Defense Attorney handling San Diego California DUI & DMV cases, shows how a San Diego DUI Lawyer will help you.
San Diego DUI Lawyer Rick Mueller, a San Diego Drunk Driving / DWI Defense Attorney handling San Diego California DUI & DMV cases, shows how a San Diego DUI Lawyer will help you.