DUI Fatalities And The Consequences In California


Here’s an unfortunate statistic you don’t want to brag about: California has the top four of the top ten U.S. metropolitan areas with the highest DUI fatality rate per capita. Those areas: #1 San Bernardino, #2 Riverside, #3 Fresno, and #4 Sacramento have the highest rate of DUI fatalities in the entire country. San Bernardino’s rate is six times higher than the national rate! It’s neighbor, Riverside, has a rate that is three times higher.

The Department of Transportation estimates that approximately one-third of all traffic fatalities involve a drunk driver and that approximately 30% of all drivers in California who died in a car crash were over the legal limit of .08%. The overwhelming number of these fatalities were individuals between the ages of 21 to 34.

According to the Department of Transportation, 28 people in the United States die every day because of an alcohol-impaired individual decided to get behind the wheel. That is a little more than one death per hour. It is even sadder when you consider that of the children up to age 14 who are killed in a traffic collision, approximately 15% were alcohol-related and over half of those children were passengers in the vehicle of the alcohol-impaired driver.

The truth is, every time a driver decides to get behind the wheel after drinking more than a glass or two, he or she is a potential murderer. That may sound harsh but let’s imagine that someone decided to shoot a gun willy-nilly without any intention of a bullet hitting another person, but a bullet did hit someone and that person was killed. Certainly you would consider that some degree of murder. Even though the shooter had no intention of killing another person, his acts were so negligent and carried the possibility that someone would get hit by a bullet that most reasonable people—and the state— would consider it an act of second-degree murder or manslaughter. The same can be said about a person who gets behind the wheel when he or she is alcohol-impaired. The driver has no intention of killing someone yet his or her act of getting behind the wheel is as careless (negligent) and without consideration of the potential consequences as that of the hypothetical gun shooter. A DUI driver in California who causes the death of another will be charged with manslaughter or even second-degree murder.

As I have discussed frequently on my blog, alcohol impairs the brain. “Oh, I’m okay to drive; I only drank a little.” “I’m fine; I can hold my liquor.” You have certainly heard those words; maybe you have said them yourself. It is important that you understand that no one is ever okay to drive after drinking. Remember that next time your alcohol-influenced brain says it is okay. And remind yourself that if you get behind the wheel, your next stop may be prison and a life of remorse.

If you would like to know more about the laws regarding driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs in California, contact Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney William M. Weinberg at his Irvine, California office at 949-474-8008.