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Our View: DUI arrests too common in the valley

Posted: July 29, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 29, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies made roughly 100 arrests for drunken driving this month. That comprises nearly half of all arrests for July in the valley.

That’s 100 potentially fatal crashes averted; 100 fewer threats on the roads where we all drive each day; potentially hundreds of innocent lives saved. And, one hopes, it makes for 100 fewer people who will ever partake in such reckless behavior ever again.

DUI checkpoints are commonplace in the SCV, and campaigns warning of the many dangers of drunken driving are on TV, the radio, magazines, etc., so the amount of drivers arrested in just one month is a bit disconcerting, especially when one factors in how many individuals drink and drive but aren’t caught.

And the arrest demographics show that the issue is far from a bunch of rowdy kids who are making stupid decisions while off from high school or college.

Their ages range from 19 to 62, and occupations run the gamut from students to unemployed to business owners to accountants to a preacher. All of them should have known better, and it’s nothing short of a miracle that no one got themselves or someone else killed.

But if there’s one silver lining to be had from the situation, it’s that our local sheriff’s deputies are getting dangers off the streets to make the SCV, and California as a whole, a safer place.

According to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department Risk Management Bureau: “All too often, members of our community are senselessly injured or killed on local roadways by impaired drivers.

“Alcohol-impaired deaths make up the largest number of vehicle fatalities, with 31 percent of all vehicle fatalities caused by a drunk driver. A DUI/DL checkpoint is an effective and proven method in lowering alcohol-related traffic deaths. This DUI/DL checkpoint is an effort to reduce those tragedies, as well to ensure that drivers possess a valid driver’s license.”

Even if you don’t get into an accident, if you’re caught driving under the influence, a first-time DUI conviction can cost between $6,000 and $10,000 after factoring in attorney’s fees, fines, work days missed and higher insurance premiums.

Also, a first conviction generally includes three to five years of court probation, a loss of your driver’s license for at least six months and driving school.

In Los Angeles County, those convicted of a DUI will be forced to install an ignition-interlock device in their vehicles at their own expense before they’re given full driving privileges. It’s essentially a Breathalyzer device that is wired into a vehicle’s starting mechanism, so the vehicle won’t start if alcohol is detected.

In addition to the immediate social, financial and legal hardships associated with drinking and driving, many career fields won’t take an applicant with a DUI conviction on his or her record.

So, we urge local motorists to use proper judgment before they start drinking.

And we give thanks to our local law enforcement for making our roadways safer, one arrest at a time.

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