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Laurene Weste: Drive safely during the holiday season

Live from City Hall

Posted: December 24, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: December 24, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

The city of Santa Clarita is partnering with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Department, local restaurants and bars to prevent drunken driving by encouraging residents to plan ahead for safe holiday celebrations.

Currently, impaired driving arrests account for about half of the arrests made in the Santa Clarita Valley each month. According to law enforcement records, 100 people were charged with a DUI in Santa Clarita by July of this year. It seems that some Santa Clarita Valley drivers, and even those visiting the community, aren’t getting the message about the importance of not driving under the influence.

Traffic Sgt. Rich Cohen of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station indicated that in most cases he believes people underestimate the affects of alcohol.

“I don’t think people who drink think it’s really going to impair their ability to drive,” Cohen said. “They don’t realize the problem it causes until they crash or they hurt one of their passengers or someone else.”

The holidays are a time to celebrate and spend time with the ones you love. By encouraging residents to plan ahead, the city hopes that people will make the responsible choice to get home safely.

Keep this in mind: a taxi cab ride from The Old Road to Sand Canyon, which is about the longest commute in our community, is a little more than $52 according to the website WorldTaxiMeter.com. 

A DUI, which can be a misdemeanor or felony depending on the severity of the incident and the number of occurrences, comes with an average of $10,000 in fines and penalties. Typical DUI costs include: bail, towing, insurance fees, legal fees, fines, alcohol evaluations and a license reinstatement fee.

In addition to these costs, life insurance premiums can rise and the convicted may experience a loss of pay due to not being able to drive, or loss of employment altogether as a result of the conviction. 

However, the biggest effect of a DUI is often the stigma associated with the conviction. While it only takes two drinks to go over the legal limit, the stereotype of being a driver with a DUI is something that is challenging to move past socially and professionally.

So while the cost of a DUI may be something you can move past financially, the social implications are often long-lasting and can cause life-long turmoil.

The bottom line is this: iIt is simply not worth it to drink and drive.

So before you head out to a holiday party or evening with family and friends, remember to designate a driver or grab a little extra cash and a few phone numbers for cab companies. There is always a better option than driving drunk.

Try a little extra pre-planning this year because arriving home safe is priceless any time of year!

This message is brought to you by the city of Santa Clarita and the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, which will be out in force with additional DUI checkpoints across the community this holiday season.

The following cab companies offer service throughout the Santa Clarita Valley: Yellow Cab of Santa Clarita (661) 260-2227; Taxi of AV and Santa Clarita (661) 940-9999; and United Taxi of Santa Clarita (661) 255-0800.

Laurene Weste is a Santa Clarita City Councilmember and can be reached at: lweste@santa-clarita.com.

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