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Marsha McLean: It’s never worth it to drink and then drive

Posted: December 22, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 22, 2012 2:00 a.m.
 

During the holiday season, it is common to hear reminders about the perils of drinking and driving on the radio, TV or read it in the newspaper. It’s a simple message that we all know and it’s the message that, if taken to heart, has the power to save lives.

Across the country, nonprofit organizations, alcohol companies, government agencies and local municipalities sponsor a variety of prevention efforts, awareness campaigns and targeted ads in the hope of encouraging people not to drive under the influence.

According to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, Santa Clarita saw a 31.8 percent decrease of DUI arrests, with 415 in 2012, compared to the 609 in 2011. This statistic represents a positive trend that the city of Santa Clarita wants to continue.

Unfortunately, there are still drivers who aren’t getting the message about the importance of not drinking and driving. Traffic Sgt. Rich Cohen of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station indicated that in most cases he believes people underestimate the effects 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 city of Santa Clarita is partnering with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, local restaurants and bars to prevent drunk driving by encouraging residents to plan ahead for safe holiday celebrations.

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 $55 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 person arrested, if convicted, may experience a loss of pay due to not being able to drive, or possible loss of employment.

However, the biggest impact 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 lifelong turmoil.

The bottom line is this: It is simply not worth it to ever 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 after drinking and arriving home safely is priceless any time of year!

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.

Marsha McLean is a Santa Clarita City councilmember and can be reached at mmclean@santa-clarita.com.

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.

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