Driving while under the influence continues to claim thousands of lives each year despite increased education and awareness on the topic. Between 2003-2012, 10,327 people were killed in car collisions involving a drunk driver in California. Here we explain what to do if you suspect a motorist driving while under the influence and ways to combat drunk driving.
What Is Drunk Driving?
According to California Vehicle Code 23152(b), drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher are considered alcohol-impaired by law. A survey in 2012 indicated that 1.8% of adults admitted to driving after drinking too much in the past 30 days. Driving while under the influence can lead to a DUI conviction which is considered a “priorable” offense in California. This means that each DUI conviction leads to even more serious consequences. When a person is convicted for driving under the influence of alcohol for the first time in California, the penalties could include:
- Up to 6 months in county jail
- $390-$1,000 in fines
- Summary probation for three to five years
- A court-approved alcohol education program
Further, driving under the influence with injury, will come with even larger penalties such as a prison sentence, Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) status, and restitution to the injured parties.
How to Recognize Drunk Driving
Sometimes it can be hard to notice if someone is driving while under the influence of alcohol, but when it comes to reporting a drunk driver it’s better to be safe than sorry and there are some signs you can look out for including:
- Sudden braking
- Weaving and swerving
- Inability to stay in the center of the lane
- Slow response time to traffic signals
- Driving significantly under the speed limit for no apparent reason
If you notice a driver on the road exhibiting any of these behaviors you should report it to the authorities.
Reporting a Drunk Driver in California
A drunk driver should be reported to the California Highway Patrol. You should pull over to a safe location and dial 9-1-1 or have a passenger in your car call. When you speak with the dispatcher you should give them your location, details about the driver’s vehicle, direction the driver is headed, and a description of their driving behavior. While doing this you should always remain safe and avoid getting too close to the offending driver.
If you are involved in a car crash with someone who you believe is under the influence, you should contact a car accident lawyer who can help you navigate the legal process. According to the San Bernardino accident attorneys at Bentley & More, LLP , “your car accident attorney can take care of the claims process so you don’t have to, explaining the laws and your rights and responsibilities”.
Ways to Reduce Drunk Driving
There are some easy ways to help reduce and prevent drunk driving. First, never drink and drive and if you believe someone else is intending to drive while under the influence, encourage them not to and give them other options. Having a designated driver, calling a cab, or using a rideshare app are always great ideas if you plan on drinking alcohol. Drunk driving is the cause of thousands of casualties each year and it should be avoided at all costs.