How serious is drunk driving in California?

Between 2012 and 2016, more than 31 percent of Riverside County’s vehicular fatalities occurred in crashes involving alcohol.

For many years and even decades now, public awareness campaigns and education efforts have been launched to get it through to people that driving a car after drinking alcohol is dangerous. Unfortunately, there remain enough stubborn and selfish drivers in California who are unwilling to put away their keys and let someone else drive or to not drink if they themselves want to drive.

As a result, innocent people continue to be killed on area roads and highways. These lives that are cut short leave even more people behind who must find a way to move on with their lives after losing those close to them so unnecessarily and prematurely.

How many people does drunk driving affect each year? Records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offer some insight into this.

2016 sees big jump in California's drunk driving deaths

The NHTSA records show that in 2015, there were 911 alcohol-related vehicular fatalities statewide. That was an increase over the 876 in 2014 but then along came 2016 which saw yet another jump. That year, 1,059 people lost their lives in California at the hands of drunk drivers.

Between 2012 and 2016, between 27 percent and 29 percent of all automotive accident deaths in the state involved alcohol.

Riverside County's drunk driving realities

Compared to the state as a whole and to its four neighboring counties, Riverside County has seen a higher percent of all vehicular fatalities attributed to alcohol. Between 2012 and 2016, 31.5 percent of the deaths in car crashes in the county happened in drunk driving accidents.

In San Bernardino and San Diego Counties, drunk driving deaths represented approximately 28 percent of all accident fatalities. In Orange County, the rate was 26 percent and in Imperial County it was 18 percent.

News recaps highlight the ongoing problem

A quick scan online returns many stories about drunk drivers and the havoc they have caused in Riverside County. According to the Press Enterprise, last September, a man with three previous driving under the influences offenses on his record killed another driver in a seven-car pileup on Alessandro Boulevard after losing control of his speeding vehicle.

The following month an underage drunk driver drove into the shoulder along a stretch of I-15 and hit a tow truck driver who was helping a stranded motorist. The 28-year-old tow truck driver died.

This spring, a drunk driver failed to stop for a 27-year-old woman legally making a turn. She was killed instantly and her passenger was seriously injured.

Compensation and justice are deserved

Anyone who loses a loved one or is injured by a drunk driver in California should contact an attorney for help promptly. This will provide them the opportunity to understand the law and their options for compensation.