So, the holiday was fun — just a little too fun. And despite all the warnings associated with drunk driving, you got nabbed. Not only is it dangerous to get behind the wheel after knocking back a few drinks, it can be costly and time consuming as well.
If law enforcement officers suspect a person is driving under the influence, they will pull the person over and administer a field sobriety test and potentially a breathalyzer test.
If the person is found to have a blood alcohol content over the legal .08 limit, they will be arrested and booked into jail.
“Once a person is booked into jail, they can be there anywhere from five to twelve hours,” Deputy District Attorney David Tahan said.
He added offenders will sit in jail until they are no longer a danger to themselves or others.
“They will be cited and released unless the incident involved injuries and or fatalities,” Tahan explained.
Tahan was awarded a $360,000 grant to help in his efforts to crack down on drunk drivers. He added the grant makes it possible for him to have a special investigator to handle serious cases.
To read more about the grant, click here.
In addition to jail time, people who are arrested for driving under the influence face fines up to $10,000, higher car insurance rates, loss of their drivers license and an ignition interlock on the ignition of their car.
“I was arrested for driving under the influence a couple of years ago,” a Murrieta resident who asked to remain anonymous said. “I had consumed three glasses of wine a few hours prior to driving and felt I was okay to drive.”
The man added he was terrified that colleagues would find out and he could lose his job.
“The experience was extremely humiliating and costly,” he said.
Many times when a fatality is involved, it isn’t the offenders first or even second infraction.
“There is only so much we can do,” Tahan said. “Repeat offenders are placed on a watch list or hot sheet.”
Jail time can range from 16 months if minor injuries are involved, three years if moderate injuries are involved, and up to 10 years if a fatality is involved.
“People don’t realize how quickly their blood alcohol level rises when they drink alcohol,” Tahan explained.
He said when checkpoints are held earlier in the evening, many times housewives who met up with friends for a glass of wine or people leaving Monday Night Football games are often stopped and found to be driving under the influence.
In Moreno Valley, there is a program where officers will go into a bar with a breathalyzer and inform and educate patrons by having them check their blood alcohol levels.
Although checkpoints help, people are still getting behind the wheel and putting themselves and others in danger.
“We have officers that file up to 85 DUI cases in a month,” Tahan said.
The bottom line is, if people are going to go out and enjoy an alcoholic beverage, they need to designate a driver or call a cab.
During the 2011 Fourth of July holiday, the CHP’s “Maximum Enforcement Period” spanned just over three days and resulted in 27 DUI arrests in the Riverside area, one fatal collision and 757 citations.
In 2012 the same MEP resulted in eight DUI arrests, 238 citations for speeding, texting while driving and similar violations and tallied 14 non-fatal collisions.
Stephanie D. Schulte is a writer/photographer with SWRNN. She can be reached at email@example.com.