In the midst of the holiday season at the end of 2021, district attorneys (DAs) for seven counties in the state, including San Diego County, spoke about the surge in traffic fatalities, many of which involved driving under the influence.
They noted a 15% statewide increase compared to the previous year. In some smaller counties, the number of fatalities increased significantly.
Added stress often leads to more drinking
The prosecutors blamed, in part, the stressful, unprecedented times we’ve been living in. DAs for Sacramento and Fresno counties both noted that over the past two years, alcohol sales and consumption have risen. San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said that our county – the second largest in the state — “is struggling with its worst episode of deadly DUI crashes in two decades,” with 37 DUI fatalities over the year.
California is certainly not alone in dealing with this problem. A spokesperson for the California Highway Patrol (CHP) said that our increase in DUI fatalities “echoes a similar trend occurring nationwide.”
Another concerning trend in California is that while crashes and injuries overall have been up and down over the past few years, the number of fatal crashes and the number of people killed have been rising.
New laws address other issues that lead to fatal crashes
Two recently enacted state laws are aimed at preventing crashes caused by distracted and speeding, reckless drivers. A law that took effect last summer increases penalties for people who are caught repeatedly using handheld phones.
Another law increases penalties for speed racing or stunt driving on streets. These activities are called “sideshows.” It won’t take effect, however, until July 2025.
We all know that we are at the mercy of other drivers, no matter how careful we are behind the wheel. There’s not much that we can do about people who ignore the law. However, if a loved one has been killed by a drunk, speeding, distracted or reckless driver, you have the right to take civil legal action against them to secure payment for expenses and damages in addition to whatever criminal charges they may be facing. With sound legal advice, you can seek justice and compensation for your loved one and your family.