(LOS ANGELES – Sept. 2, 2010) – More than 2.5 million Southern Californians will be traveling over Labor Day weekend and the Automobile Club of Southern California projects that 91 percent of local travelers will be driving to their destinations. To improve safety, numerous police agencies will be conducting DUI checkpoints this weekend. The Auto Club reminds those celebrating near home and on vacation that a first-time DUI costs about $12,000 in fines, attorney fees and other cost increases, and that CHP statistics show drinking and driving kills 1,300 people statewide each year.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 32 percent of traffic fatalities in 2008 involved a drunken driver, and about one-third of those arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol were repeat offenders.
In addition to an increase in travel, those staying close to home this weekend are likely to celebrate the holiday with family barbecues, picnics or by attending local events such as the Los Angeles County Fair.
“Alcohol-related crashes in California have declined slightly in the last couple of years, but there were still nearly 21,000 fatal and injury crashes involving alcohol in 2008 – more than 57 each day,” said Alice Bisno, the Auto Club’s senior vice president for public affairs. “When vacationing or driving anywhere this weekend, it is important to exercise extra caution. Don’t drink and drive. Also, watch out for impaired drivers, avoid them if possible, and call 911 to report them if is safe for you to do so.”
The Auto Club has a DUI website, www.AAADUIJusticeLink.com, that is a compilation of DUI-related resources including state laws, up-to-date statistics and academic research reports.
“AAA’s DUI JusticeLink is a valuable resource to access impartial information about a wide range of impaired driving issues,” said Bisno. “Information about DUI laws in all 50 states is available on this site.”
The Auto Club asks motorists to consider the following before heading out to Labor Day parties and activities:
- Make a plan if you are driving anywhere that alcohol will be served. Designate a driver or take a cab if you plan to drink.
- Impairment begins with the first drink. Younger people, whether male or female, often have lower tolerances.
- California has a zero tolerance law. For anyone under 21, it is illegal to drive with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system, and they will be subject to the same penalties as all first-time DUI offenders.
- A first-time DUI offense in California automatically results in a four-month driver’s license suspension.
- After being convicted of a DUI offense in Los Angeles County, drivers are required to have an ignition-interlock device installed on their vehicle which prevents the vehicle from operating if the driver has a blood-alcohol level of .03 or higher.