Every year, Americans head out on our nation’s highways to celebrate the Independence Day holiday at picnics, parties, parades and more. Unfortunately for many, the celebration frequently includes drinking alcohol, which too often leads to drunk driving on one of the most heavily traveled holidays of the year.
From 2010-14, 39 percent of all traffic fatalities over the Fourth of July period occurred in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. There were 397 people killed nationally in motor vehicle crashes in 2014 over the Fourth of July holiday. Of those fatalities, 41 percent were killed in crashes involving a driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. In California during the holiday, an average of six people are killed and 110 are seriously injured each year.
This Fourth of July, Monterey Park Police Department will be out in full force, cracking down on drunk drivers by aggressively targeting those who put lives in danger. In addition to routine staffing, extra officers will staff a DUI saturation patrols over the three day weekend.
The consequences of drunk driving are that serious. Not only are impaired drivers putting their lives and the lives of others at risk, but a DUI arrest means a loss of freedom and money. That can include going to jail, losing a driving license and paying steep financial costs of $10,000 or more.
The Monterey Park Police Department recommends these safe alternatives to drinking and driving.
• Plan a safe way home before the fun begins.
• Before drinking, designate a sober driver.
• DDVIP: The California Office of Traffic Safety DDVIP mobile app is available for free download on iOS and Android devices. The DDVIP app allows users to “Map a Spot” with their current location to find DDVIP partnering establishments in their area or a “List of Spots” to search all participating bars and restaurants throughout California. Users can stay up-to-date with the latest from DDVIP and see what other users are saying via its social tab. Also through the app, for those who want to imbibe but also make it a point to plan ahead, users can easily order a sober ride from Uber, Lyft or Curb – all from one screen.
• Drugs, Medication and Alcohol=Crashes: Recent statistics reveal that 30 percent of drivers in fatal crashes had one or more drugs in their systems. A study of active drivers showed more tested positive for drugs that may impair driving (14 percent) than did for alcohol (7.3 percent). Of the drugs, marijuana was most prevalent, at 7.4 percent, slightly more than alcohol.
• If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate – “Report Drunk Drivers! Call 911!”
• If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take your friend’s keys and help your friend make other arrangements to get to where he or she is going safely.
Funding for the extra DUI enforcement operations is a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Sergeant Brent Archibald, Monterey Park Police Department