The California Highway Patrol made hundreds of DUI arrests across the state over the July 4th weekend even as state officials discouraged Californians from traveling because of the coronavirus pandemic. According to a KTLA news report, officers arrested 738 suspected impaired drivers between 6:01 p.m. on July 3rd and 11:59 p.m. July 5th. At least 36 people were killed in crashes statewide. CHP officials said roughly 25% of the motor vehicle occupants killed in these crashes were not wearing their seatbelts.
Numbers High Despite the Pandemic
This year’s arrests proved there was an increase compared with 589 DUI arrests made last year and about a dozen deaths. But, when extended through the weekend, 1,317 drivers were arrested last year on suspicion of DUI over a period of four and a half days. DUI-related crashes were linked to 36 deaths last year. Comparatively, this year’s maximum enforcement period was two days shorter than last year, because, in 2019, the holiday fell on a Thursday.
One critical difference this year was that fewer holiday travelers were expected to hit the road because the California Department of Public Health discouraged gatherings and driving long distances for vacations to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Before the holiday, CHP officials said they had seen an increase in citations for excessive speeding on California’s roads over the past few months because of lighter traffic resulting from stay-at-home orders. During the Memorial Day enforcement period, 458 drivers were cited by CHP officers for driving over 100 mph, which was an increase of 173% compared to the same period in 2019.
Summer Driving Safety
As we head into the rest of the summer in unusual circumstances because of COVID-19, it is important to remember that in order to stay safe on the road, drivers must take the usual cautionary steps:
- Observe the speed limit, even if the roads are relatively empty: California law states not only that drivers should follow the posted limit, but also that they should drive at a safe speed given the traffic, weather and roadway conditions.
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
- Do not drive while distracted: In-vehicle distractions are caused not just by electronic devices. Eating, reading, drinking or talking to a passenger – could all be distracting and lead to car crashes.
- Do not drive if you are fatigued or sleepy.
- Be sure to maintain enough distance between vehicles: This will give you adequate stopping time should the vehicle in front of you come to a sudden stop.
- Make sure your vehicle – tires, brakes and other parts – are in good working condition.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries, damages and losses. Contact an experienced California car accident lawyer to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.