You drunk, stupid or both?

March 24, 2014

March 24, 2014, West Hollywood, California

Supplied by KLEAN West Hollywood in partnership with WeHo News.Ryan Gierach contributed to this article and posted it.

Drunk driving kills. We hear it, we know it, we believe it but so many still do it. On average of 25 people are killed across the U.S. every day by intoxicated motorists.

During the holidays, the average jumps to 45 per day, according to an article in The Examiner.


In the United States the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates the nearly 10,000 people killed in alcohol-related collisions, represented a third of total traffic deaths. One out of every 10 arrests for all crimes in the U.S. was for Operating While Impaired (OWI), accounting for 1 out of every 80 licensed drivers.

The LA Sheriff’s Department regularly promotes in advance its drunk driving sobriety check points, special saturation patrols and routine patrols on big holidays, and St. Patty’s Day was no difference this year. This year they nabbed 571 in the 24 hour period on March 17.

Every year at Christmastime, the Sheriff’s station a badly wrecked car outside the station on Santa Monica Boulevard so that hundreds of thousands of people will pass by and, hopefully, give it some thought.

But you have to ask, with law enforcement telling people they are roaming the streets and have that they have erected checkpoints looking for people driving under the influence, the 571 people who got caught cannot have been listening, couldn’t grasp what they have been hearing or were drunk.

The Sheriff's department and city officials urging people to drive sober.

The Sheriff’s department and city officials urging people to drive sober.

Law enforcement officials will be conducting more “Avoid the 100” DUI operations during Cinco de Mayo, Memorial Day weekend holiday and 4th of July.

DUI checkpoints, along with regularly scheduled high visibility DUI enforcement operations, are proven strategies for removing impaired drivers from the road and heightening awareness of the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, sobriety checkpoint programs can yield considerable cost savings: $6 for every $1 spent.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

 New York Stepped out First

The first city in the adopt laws against drunk driving was New York in 1910, with California and others following. Prior to these laws being adopted, the law only prohibited driving while intoxicated but there was no defined level of what intoxicated was. The first official legal BAC limit was .15.

The Heat from MADD

From the 1970’s – 1990’s there was a lot of pressure from MADD and other drunk driving advocate drinksgroups which lead to a national standard of .08 as the definition of impairment. Just last year, the National Transportation Safety Board suggested lowering the limit legal for driving from .08 to .05 BAC in an attempt to reduce drinking and driving deaths.

MADD opposes this idea and believes that their three-pronged agenda for reducing impaired driving is the better focus. Most states don’t agree with it either. The Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway safety offices says, “It was very difficult to get .08 in most states so lowering it again won’t be popular. The focus in the states is on high content offenders as well as repeat offenders. We expect industry will also be very vocal about keeping the limit at .08.”

Would Change Criminalize Social Drinking

Mike Moser, of the State Liquor Association, said the change could criminalize social drinking. sheriffsign450Moser said it makes more sense to crack down on heavy drinkers who are more dangerous behind the wheel. Dr. Thomas Esposito, chief of the Division of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care and Burns in the Department of Surgery at Loyola University Medical Center says, “Impairment begins far earlier than severe intoxication. The rationalization by critics that it penalizes the person who only occasionally has ‘one too many’ or who only drinks ‘socially’ makes no sense. One too many is just that; it’s about impairment, not the number of drinks.”

The Goals

NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said, “Our goal is to get to zero deaths because each alcohol-impaired death is preventable. They can and should be prevented. The tools exist. What is needed is the will.” In 2011, 9,858 people were killed, 350,000 injured and $132 billion spent as a result of “alcohol-related” crashes and 4 million motorists admitted to driving while impaired.

Police, Sheriff and the CHP encourage motorists to help law enforcement every day: Report Drunk Drivers – Call 9-1-1 anytime you encounter an impaired driver.

This page was produced by the Advertising Department of WeHo News in partnership with KLEAN Treatment Center in West Hollywood