San Luis Obispo County

California among 6 states seeing increase of DUI deaths in the last decade

California among 6 states seeing increase of DUI deaths in the last decade

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - The Golden State is leading in a new list, but not one to be proud of: drinking and driving fatalities.

"It was about 987 in the year 2000, and 1,120 fatalities in the year 2017," said research analyst at Quote Wizard, Adam Johnson. 

Quote Wizard, an insurance comparison website, analyzed National Highway Traffic Safety Association data to come up with the results. 

Johnson says their research shows California seeing an increase of 13.47 percent in drunk driving fatalities from 2000 to 2017, ranking as the fourth largest rate increase in the country.

He also mentions that it is only 1 of 6 states to see a rise.

At the national level, though, there was an 18 percent decrease over that same time frame. 

"The rest of the country responded well to public safety announcements, increased enforcements on the roads, as well as harsher legal penalties for DUIs," said Johnson. 

WalletHub, a personal finance website, looked at drunk driving enforcement rules in each of the 50 states. They say California was ranked 21st in its list of states with strictest DUI laws. 

According to the California Highway Patrol, in 2018 there were more than 66,000 arrests, a 4 percent increase from the previous year.

"In the state of California, for 2018, there were 142 check-points statewide," said public information officer at CHP San Luis Obispo, Mike Poelking.

In light of the national campaign, "Drive sober or get pulled over" going on from August 14 through September 2nd, agencies are reminding people just how much the crime can cost someone. 

"Statistically speaking, per AAA, you're looking at roughly a $15,000 hit financially," said Poelking. "A DUI stays on your record for 10 years."

"Your insurance rates take a big hit," said Johnson. "They can go up as much as three times after a DUI, and could also lead to your insurance company dropping you."

CHP San Luis Obispo is also preparing for back to school season.

"Unfortunately, every time college kicks off in the next couple of weeks, working the graveyard shift here, we'll get several calls," said Poelking.

He says besides DUI cases, the agency gets reports of inebriated students walking on the freeway in the middle of the night to avoid drunk driving.

"Do not get out there on the highway, especially if you're intoxicated," instead he recommends, "Rideshares, taxi, a designated driver."

CHP SLO also has a Start Smart program, a monthly service designed for new drivers where officers educate them on the dangers of DUI's, distracted driving, and more. 

Poelking says they are also preparing for their maximum enforcement period ahead of Labor Day weekend in September. 


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