Working with madd to shut down drunk driving
On November 18, 2013 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 who was jogging and killed by an alleged drunk driver whose family I representing on her Wrongful Death matter. CVAG is made up of representative of each city and every law enforcement department in the valley. I explained to CVAG that as a lawyer who has sued Drunk Drivers for injuries and wrongful deaths for 40 years while at the same time defending the rights of those charged with Drunk Driving I have a unique perspective on the subject. MY IDEAS ON HOW TO SHUT DOWN DRUNK DRIVING START AND END WITH EDUCATION AS A COMPLIMENT TO LAW ENFORCEMENT and the formation of a Blue Ribbon Committee.
1. Initially we need to teach the public 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 and in California that occurs whenever the blood alcohol is .08 or higher....although law enforcement will arrest with a .07 here in the desert. Being 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 and how much of it is protein are also factors. Most people mistakenly think they have to be loaded to be drunk.......that is not correct.
2. The crucial thing to understand is that it is not the number of drinks but the amount of alcohol in each drink. A drink is 12 oz. of beer, 1 oz. of hard alcohol or 4 oz. of wine. Many restaurants pour a 6-8 oz. pour of wine. Thus when you have two 6 oz. drinks with dinner you have really had 3 drinks. Often restaurants and bars pour a 3 oz. pour of hard alcohol. That equals 3 drinks... not one.
I recently had a kid in my office with his mom who swore he only had 1 drink. I told him his high reading was impossible from one drink. Then I asked if he used a red Costco 16 oz. cup and filled it 2/3 of the way with alcohol and topped it off with OJ........he said yes. My client and the public must understand that using a 16 oz. cup means he was consuming about 12 oz. of alcohol and that is the same as 12 drinks. In addition people always forget when the bartender tops off their wine when they are half way through it.
3. Alcohol and prescriptive drugs do not mix. When your RX says on the label that you should not operate heavy machinery/equipment they mean cars. We should probably have a revision of the law that mandates that a pharmacy explains on the prescriptive vial that you should not operate a car/vehicle after drinking and/or taking a pill with that warning. Many people think that heavy machinery/equipment is a just a tractor. We must teach the public there is something called Potentiation. This occurs when the RX pill, such as anti-depressants with this warning, are combined with an alcoholic drink. The result is someone more under the influence than they would be without the pill. Thus the driver becomes a LOT more under the influence because of this combination of alcohol and a drug. One drink with a RX drug could causes the driver to be as much under the influence as having consumed several drinks. The same is even truer with illegal drugs like MJ or Cocaine. MJ today is often 13 times stronger than it was in the 60's and 70's but the public does not realize this.
4. With repeat DUI offenders as a condition of 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.
A Blue Ribbon Committee will be working in collaboration with CVAG, and MADD, TO SHUT DOWN DRUNK DRIVING and make a difference! I am proud to be part of that committee.
Don't drink and drive!
If you have any questions regarding this column or ideas for future columns please contact Dale Gribow Attorney at Law at our NEW number 760-565-0533.