It’s not an accident when someone decides to drink and drive and he or she ends up in a crash. They might call it that when the dust settles and a life has been taken, but somewhere along the way a choice made, and that choice involved putting the key in the ignition and driving away after you’ve drank alcohol.
There is no ‘safe’ amount of alcohol you can drink before driving, and yet every single day in California and other parts of the United States, people make a judgment call about how they’re OK to drive after drinking. Maybe it’s false confidence, or maybe the penalties, especially in California, aren’t tough enough on people who drive under the influence (DUI).
One Op-Ed out of Paradise, California voices the opinion that DUI laws in the state need to change to make the choice to drink and drive less appealing than it has been, and they are right. At this time, if a first offender is arrested for drinking and driving, they’ll only receive four days to six months in jail, fines payable up to $1,000, and a driver’s license suspension of up to 2 years.
The penalties for repeat offenders aren’t that different – a four time DUI offender in California will spend up to 16 months in jail, receive a driver’s license suspension of 4 years, and pay almost $18,000 in fines payable.
An ignition interlock device is required for first and repeat offenders in some counties of California, and there’s currently a bill on the table seeking ignition interlock devices for all offenders in all counties. Other states have seen a dramatic reduction in DUI arrests and fatalities after they’ve enacted an all offender ignition interlock law, and that is what is needed to stop drinking drivers in California.
The stories of DUI fatalities hit the news every day, and until drinking drivers stop making the choice to get behind the wheel after drinking any amount of alcohol, these stories will continue to appear. Supporting California’s all offender ignition interlock bill is the best way to take the choice away from these drivers.