The California Highway Patrol (CHP), the state District Attorney’s office, and police departments around California have partnered with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to raise awareness about safe and sober driving this winter. This partnership comes in the wake of a particularly bad Thanksgiving weekend. According to reports, CHP alone arrested 1,016 drivers on DUI charges in the days following the holiday.
Why is drunk driving on the rise? That’s an excellent question. Here’s what you need to know about why California law enforcement thinks drunk driving is on the rise, the risks this may pose, and what you can do if you or a loved one is injured by a drunk driver this holiday season.
California Police Report Spike in Holiday Drunk Driving
The holidays often bring an increase in intoxicated drivers, but the trend seems to be particularly bad this year. One local police department has already surpassed 2021’s DUI arrests by 15%, with another month left to go. Others are on track to beat previous years’ records as well.
There may be several reasons for this dangerous trend. One is that people are becoming more comfortable gathering with family and friends for holiday parties after the pandemic. As a result, there are simply more opportunities for people to drink while away from home, leading to more intoxicated drivers. Another cause may be economic. With the economy in flux and inflation high, some people may not want to pay for a taxi or rideshare to get home and choose to drive even when it’s dangerous.
CHP and its partners are urging drivers to make the safe choice anyway. The partnership is encouraging people around the state to get rides instead of driving themselves to protect everyone on the road. Whether the initiative will work to reduce DUIs is yet to be seen.
The Risks Posed by Drunk Drivers
Intoxicated driving is illegal for a good reason. Getting behind the wheel while drunk is one of the most selfish things a person can do. Not only are they putting themselves at risk, but they are also endangering everyone else on the road.
In fact, drunk drivers are often the least injured in multi-car accidents. Studies show that other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians suffer the most from intoxicated motorists. One hypothesis is that the alcohol in the drunk person’s body prevents them from tensing up, reducing the risk of injuries like broken bones and whiplash. However, pedestrians and other road users don’t have that benefit and frequently suffer life-altering injuries or die in these crashes.
How bad is the drunk driving epidemic? It’s significant. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that deaths from alcohol-impaired driving accidents rose 14% overall between 2019 and 2020. These injuries and deaths are completely avoidable, and yet people continue to get behind the wheel intoxicated anyway.
What to Do After Being Hit by a Drunk Driver
Unfortunately, there is only so much you can do to protect yourself from drunk drivers. You can only control your own actions, after all. If someone else chooses to drive while intoxicated, the best defensive driving practices in the world can’t prevent them from running a red light and T-boning your car in an intersection.
Whether you have already been hurt in a drunk driving accident or are concerned about one in the future, it’s worthwhile to understand how to respond. Here are the four most important steps to take after being hit by an intoxicated motorist:
- Notify the authorities. Immediately after any car crash, you should contact the local police to have them document the accident. If no one is injured, you can call the non-emergency line. However, if you or anyone else has significant injuries or the other driver attempts to leave the scene, call 911. The emergency response team will arrive to get you immediate treatment and detain the other driver to determine if they’re intoxicated.
- Get the driver’s information. Collect the other driver’s name, license plate number, and insurance information if possible. You can do this at the scene, or you may need to get the details from the police report if you had to receive emergency medical treatment.
- Seek medical treatment. Do not wait to get medical care if you have been injured. You can get details about the accident later if you need immediate treatment. Even if your injuries aren’t obviously severe, you should still get a medical exam as soon as possible to identify whether any potential problems may develop symptoms later, such as whiplash, fractures, or brain bleeds.
- Notify insurance. It is best practice to inform insurance companies about car accidents immediately or within 24 hours if possible. Contact both your own car accident insurance provider and the company that covers the other driver to ensure they are both aware of what occurred.
- Consult with drunk driving accident lawyers. Many insurance companies work hard to reduce the amount they are required to pay injured drivers in compensation. The best way to avoid that is by consulting with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible.
Talk to Us About Your Drunk Driving Injuries
While you can’t control whether someone else drives drunk or hits you, you can control what happens afterward. For example, you can make sure they are held accountable for their reckless behavior and that you receive the compensation you need to recover from your injuries or cover the losses you suffer after a loved one’s wrongful death. The first step is to consult with the expert attorneys at Ellis Helm, APC.
Our Temecula drunk driving accident attorneys will listen to your story and advocate on your behalf during car accident insurance claims and litigation. Learn more about our firm by calling 951-289-0628 or sending us a message to schedule your consultation.