Spring is in the air here in the East Bay. Along with warming temperatures and longer days, March and April signals spring break for a number of Berkeley and other college and university students in the area. Whether travelling out of town, to Los Angeles, Palm Springs, San Diego, or staying local to unwind, many young people take advantage of the time off from school to relax with some beers near the beach, and party in the evening knowing they don't have to wake up early for class. Unfortunately, spring break can also signal an increase in DUIs, underage DUIs, and even fatal traffic accidents.
Police officers and the California Highway Patrol are aware of the local spring break schedules, and are always on the lookout of drunk drivers. In some areas, local law enforcement conduct DUI enforcement operations focused on pulling over intoxicated drivers, and keeping drunk drivers off the road. Additionally, law enforcement sometimes sets up DUI sobriety checkpoints as a way to deter drunk driving. Hayward, Oakland, and Berkeley have already seen local police DUI checkpoints this year. Antioch, Richmond, Walnut Creek, Pittsburg and Concordhave also had DUI checkpoints set up in the past few months.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), impaired driving is most likely to occur in the evening hours, on weekends, and specific holidays. DUI Saturation Patrols set up in areas with high rates of DUI arrests, during the hours when people are more likely to drink and drive. Most DUIs occur at night and into the early morning, between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Saturation patrols often coincide with holidays where there may be a greater likelihood that people are drinking and driving, such as New Years Eve, Thanksgiving and Spring Break.
A new study from the University of Miami crunched the numbers on the rate of fatal traffic accidents in popular U.S. spring break destinations. The study found that in 14 popular spring break destinations, the weekly death toll from deadly car accidents increased by over 9% during the spring break season. It is important to note that the study did not find that alcohol use was a significant contributing factor. According to one of the authors of the study, professor of health economics, Michael French suggested distracted driving may be one factor leading to an increase in fatalities, due to tired driving, texting and driving, and having a number of people in the car at the time.
In the East Bay, spring break leaves thousands of students with the free time to party, celebrate, or relax, often involving alcohol or marijuana. Unfortunately, this can lead to increased incidents of driving under the influence, especially for underage drivers. If you or your child has been arrested for a DUI anywhere in Alameda or Contra Costa, call me so that we can discuss the case, and how you can fight to keep a conviction off your record, and keep your license to drive. You only have 10 days to prevent an administrative license suspension, so contact me today.