According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Thanksgiving is traditionally a peak time for DUIs in California, as we wrote about last month. In past years, more than 500 people were killed in alcohol related accidents over the four-day period. With the latest numbers in, DUIs were up in some counties, and down in others over the holiday weekend.
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) has released their annual report detailing drunk driving accidents and arrests for the Thanksgiving holiday period. The number of arrests for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol were mixed across the state, depending on the county. The good news is that DUI-related fatalities were down compared to last year.
Statewide, holiday DUI arrests were up about 5% over 2014, totalling 940 arrests in California's 58 counties. In 2014, 28 people were killed over the Thanksgiving weekend in drunk driving crashes. While the number of drunk driving fatalities is down for 2015, 17 people still lost their lives in automobile accidents involving alcohol. The reporting period lasts from 6:01 p.m. Wednesday through 6 a.m. Sunday following Thanksgiving.
Here in the East Bay, the CHP put the word out about the maximum enforcement period, warning drivers against the dangers of drunk driving. However, there were still a couple of deadly accidents over the long weekend. In the early morning hours of November 27th, a driver lost control of his vehicle which went off an embankment near Livorna Road. In a separate incident on November 28th, another driver went down an embankment off San Pablo Dam road. Both drivers were killed in the accidents, and the causes are still under investigation.
Law enforcement officials in California take drunk driving over the holiday weekend very seriously. Police officers and the CHP increase DUI patrols and step-up sobriety checkpoints from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day. The increased enforcement is aimed at catching drivers who've had too much to drink, as well as to act as a deterrent so that people who are drinking don't get behind the wheel.
“Drunk driving is one of the serious traffic-related issues we face today,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “If you are caught driving drunk, you will be arrested.”
In other parts of the state, Indio went its third year without a DUI fatality during the CHP's maximum enforcement period. Riverside had 33 DUI arrests last year, with only 22 arrests for 2015, with one DUI fatality in each of the past two years. San Diego had no DUI fatalities last year, but two deaths from this past holiday weekend.
In Los Angeles County, 223 people were arrested this year for DUIs, which represents approximately a 40% increase over the previous years 158 arrests. However, in San Diego, the number of DUI arrests changed little over the past year. In 2014, police arrested 45 people for a DUI, with 44 arrests for 2015. Tuolumne County also had a similar number of DUI arrests, with 6 DUI arrests last year, and 5 arrests the year before.
If you are arrested on suspicion of drinking and driving over the holiday weekend, your arrest does not have to end in a conviction. With more than 30 years of experience defending people facing a DUI in the East Bay, Lynn Gorelick understands the local laws and penalties involved. I Contact a local East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands the DUI charges you are facing, and is familiar with the local laws, prosecutors and the courts.