Los Angeles Officials Warn Against Holiday DUIs as Hospitals Fill Up with COVID-19 Patients
The Los Angeles city attorney, this week, strongly urged residents not to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs as a surge in coronavirus cases continue to overwhelm hospital and ICU capacity all over Southern California during this holiday season. According to a KTLA news report, City Attorney Mike Feuer said that it could be very difficult to get help if you are in a car accident either as a driver or a passenger.
Serious Concern About DUIs
Alarmingly, DUI arrests and incidents have been way up during the pandemic. Even with two stay-at-home orders that have shuttered bars and banned gatherings in the city this year, Feuer said that between Jan. 1 and Dec. 1, his officer prosecuted more than 5,000 DUI cases – 4,601 involving alcohol, 384 tied to drugs and 100 linked to both. More than 300 people were previously convicted of driving drunk and did not have the required ignition interlock device, which is a Breathalyzer-like device installed in vehicles of previous offenders.
Last New Year’s Eve and Day, California Highway Patrol officers arrested 491 DUI suspects and at least three people were killed. CHP said at the time that it was the equivalent of removing an impaired driver from the road nearly every four minutes. As of Sunday, Dec. 20, Los Angeles County had only 354 ICU beds available out of 21,556. Four county-run hospitals are preparing an emergency plan in the event that a shortage of beds or health care workers prevents them from treating every patient.
Health officials said dealing with DUI victims adds strain to an already strained health system. They said over the weekend, a large family was sent to a public trauma center after they were hit by a drunk driver. The hospital’s job was made all the more difficult because of the high number of COVID-19 patients they were already taking care of, officials said.
Don’t Drink and Drive
If you plan to host a small gathering this holiday season or participate in one, please do not drink and drive. There are a number of options including taking a rideshare vehicle, asking a designated sober driver to drop you off at home or staying at the host’s location until you sober up. We have already seen too many horrific tragedies in Southern California over the last few weeks caused by DUI drivers.
If you have been injured by a DUI driver or if you have lost a loved one in a DUI crash, please contact an experienced Los Angeles DUI victims’ lawyer who can help uphold your rights and hold the at-fault parties accountable.