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Celebrate safely: don’t drink and drive

Posted: December 27, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 27, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

By the time you read this column, Christmas will have passed and we will be looking forward to celebrating the New Year.

No doubt there will be many opportunities to get together to celebrate with family and friends. However, the most wonderful time of the year can also be the most dangerous — when good cheer leads to bad decisions.

Before toasting the New Year, residents can make the most important resolution of all by resolving not to drink and drive. The life you save may not only be your own.

Each day, nearly 30 people in the United States lose their lives in car collisions involving an alcohol-impaired driver.

Our local Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s deputies and CHP officers make hundreds of DUI arrests each year, with the majority of incidents taking place around the holidays.

Thankfully, these numbers are on the decline. In 2012, Santa Clarita saw a 31 percent decrease in DUI arrests compared to 2011, and I am pleased to report that DUI arrests are down approximately 15 percent for 2013 compared to 2012.

Together, community members can ensure this life-saving trend continues.

This holiday season, Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s deputies and CHP officers are cracking down with an aggressive

“Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” enforcement campaign to keep our streets safe.
Several DUI checkpoints, patrols and sweeps will be conducted throughout Santa Clarita to ensure that drunk drivers are caught and arrested.

Our sheriff’s deputies and CHP receive grant funding to implement DUI checkpoints. The funds can only be used for this purpose, so they are put to good use without impacting the city’s general fund.
Residents can also do their part by practicing caution on the roadways, planning ahead, and reporting drunken drivers.

Those who plan on drinking should designate a sober driver in advance, keep taxi numbers on hand, or simply stay in and avoid driving altogether.

Sober drivers can practice extra precaution by keeping alert, obeying traffic laws and taking weather conditions into account when out on the road.

Last but not least, all drivers should buckle up to save lives in the event of an accident.

Although community members and local law enforcement can do their best to try to prevent tragedy on our roadways, there will still be a number of people who choose to drink and drive. I have one question for these individuals: Are you prepared to pay the price?

Due to public awareness campaigns, many of us know that DUI arrests can have dramatic financial repercussions.

Depending on the severity of the incident and the number of repeat offenses, fines can total more than $10,000.

In addition to the dramatic financial impact, there are several other costs associated with drinking and driving that can last for years to come.

DUI convictions can result in jail time, the loss of a driver’s license and employment, higher car and life insurance rates, and serious damage to hard-earned reputations, which can take years to repair.

But drunken drivers pay the highest price when they cause an accident that takes someone’s life — including their own.

The bottom line is simple: Responsible actions can save lives and prevent terrible consequences. Here are a few important facts and tips to help you stay safe this holiday season:

  •  Just one drink can impair judgment and increase the risk of an accident.
  •  If you plan on drinking, plan ahead and designate a sober driver in advance.
  •  If you drink, do not drive. Call a taxi, phone a friend or family member, or use public transportation.

Another excellent resource, especially for teens, is SCV Safe Rides, which can be contacted at 661- 259-6330.

  •  Look after friends and neighbors. Keep others who are drinking from getting behind the wheel.
  •  If you spot something, say something: report impaired drivers on the road to law enforcement by calling 911.

In closing, I hope our residents will remember one thing: It is never acceptable to drink and drive. Please celebrate safely to ensure a happy New Year for all.

Marsha McLean is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at mmclean@santa-clarita.com.

 

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