THE HOLIDAY SEASON SAW AN ALARMING INCREASE IN DUIs
While promising trends suggest a declining number of drivers are getting behind the wheel while under the influence, statistics from this past holiday season may be cause for concern. The holiday season of 2017 saw a substantial increase in the number of drivers arrested by the CHP for driving under the influence as compared to the 2016 season. Statewide, arrests for DUI were up almost 20% over the prior year during the Thanksgiving holiday and up 30% during the Christmas holiday. The New Year’s holiday weekend continued the trend with a 22% increase in drunk driving arrests. The uptick occurred over all areas of the state; it is not attributable to only a few locales.
What explains this? It may be a one-time spike and no trend at all. Or a reasonable assumption may be that this holiday season, CHP patrol and enforcement was increased as compared to last year. While that may make sense, it is incorrect. The 2017 holidays were a Maximum Enforcement Period as were the holidays in 2016. For many years now, the CHP has been conducting Maximum Enforcement Periods (MEP) wherein more CHP officers are deployed on the roads. MEPs are conducted during the winter holiday season and warm weather holidays such as the Fourth of July and Memorial Day. During an MEP, all available officers in the state are called to duty. Their enforcement focus is on speeding, seat belt violations and, of course, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Perhaps another explanation might be the increasing number of drivers who are under the influence of a drug other than alcohol. It is too early for the DMV to break down the statistics so it is unclear how many of these holiday drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and how many were arrested for driving under the influence of a drug or a combination of alcohol and another drug.
Driving under the influence means driving under the influence of any drug that affects the driver’s ability to drive safely whether that drug is alcohol, marijuana, or even a legally prescribed drug. As for driving under the influence of marijuana, it is too early to tell whether legalization will spike the number of DUIs and DUI-related incidents, but there is no question that some drivers will be under the influence of both marijuana and alcohol. While the effects of this combination are still being researched, many studies suggest it is a dangerous combination, which can cause serious physical and psychological side-effects.
The CHP and the California Office of Traffic Safety are gearing up for what may be an increased number of drivers on the road since recreational marijuana was legalized. The agencies have launched a public information campaign to educate the public on the dangers of driving under the influence of marijuana or other drugs.
If the coming summer holidays also show a spike in DUI arrests and DUI-related incidents over last year’s holidays, I imagine that marijuana legalization will be considered as a possible culprit.
If you have been charged with driving under the influence, Attorney William Weinberg can help. He has been defending drivers charged with DUI and DUI-related offenses for almost 25 years. Attorney Weinberg can evaluate your case and advise you regarding your best options. You can contact him for a free consultation of your DUI matter by calling (949) 474-8008 or by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.