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How can we shutdown drunk driving

Jan. 13, 2015

Two years ago I was asked to speak to the Coachella Valley Association of Government (CVAG) on how to SHUTDOWN DRUNK DRIVING. A few days earlier I joined members of law enforcement at the Coachella City Hall to speak about the young girl whose family I was representing for the wrongful death of their daughter. She was jogging a few days earlier and killed by a drunk driver.

CVAG is made up of representative of each city and every law enforcement department in the valley. As a lawyer who sues Drunk Drivers for Injuries and Wrongful Deaths to my clients, while at the same time defending the rights of those charged with Drunk Driving, I have a unique perspective on the subject.

MY IDEA STARTS AND ENDS WITH EDUCATION, AS A COMPLIMENT TO LAW ENFORCEMENT. I suggested the formation of a Blue Ribbon Committee to study Drunk Driving. CVAG agreed and I have been honored to be the only lawyer among police chiefs, mayors to be appointed to the committee.

The correct criminal charge is not Drunk Driving but rather Driving Under the Influence. You do not have to be drunk. You merely have to be under the influence or impaired. In California that occurs whenever the blood alcohol is .08 or higher....although law enforcement will arrest and the DA will prosecute some local .07's.

Under the influence occurs after about three drinks but depends on one's weight, how much you ate, the time lapse between drinking and driving. Most people mistakenly think they have to be loaded to be drunk.......that is incorrect.

It is not the number of drinks but the amount of alcohol in each drink that is important. A drink is 12 oz. of beer; 1 oz. of alcohol or 4 oz. of wine. Many restaurants pour a 6-8 oz. pour of wine. Thus when you have two 6 oz. wines you had 3 drinks. Many restaurants and bars pour a 3 oz. pour of hard alcohol. That equals 3 drinks... not one.

Alcohol and prescriptive drugs do not mix. When your RX vial's label says you should "not operate heavy machinery/equipment" they mean cars. We need a warning law mandating a pharmacy's label explain "you should not operate a car/vehicle" after drinking and/or taking a pill.

People think that heavy machinery/equipment is a tractor. We should educate the public there is something called Potentiation. This occurs when the RX pill, such as anti-depressants, pain and diet pills, with this warning, are combined with an alcoholic drink. The result is someone more under the influence than they would be without the pill.

With repeat DUI offenders in addition to the standard 5 years of probation I would require the driver to attend refresher DUI classes every year until the probation is over. This is on top of the regular DUI classes currently mandated by the courts and DMV.

Our Blue Ribbon Committee has worked in collaboration with CVAG, and MADD, TO SHUT DOWN DRUNK DRIVING and make a difference! I am proud to be part of that committee.

Remember Don't Drink and Drive! Take a Taxi or Uber. It is a lot cheaper than calling me.

If you have any questions regarding this column or ideas for future columns please contact Dale Gribow Attorney at Law at 760-565-0533.


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