Cinco de Mayo: Fiesta Time or Jail Time? Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving

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el-centro-police-department logoEL CENTRO — In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has become synonymous with festive fiestas and salty margaritas. Historically, the fifth of May commemorates Mexico’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco‐Mexican War, but present‐day celebrations often lead to drunk driving—and there’s no victory in that.

If you are planning to party this Cinco de Mayo, keep this number in mind: 343 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes over the Cinco de Mayo holiday weekend in 2014. Of those 343 people who lost their lives, 34 percent (116) died in drunk‐driving crashes. And the drivers in those crashes weren’t just a little drunk. Sadly, almost one out of five (17%) of all the drivers in fatal crashes that weekend had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of .15 % or higher—almost two times the legal limit in every state.

El Centro Police Department is continuing its ongoing efforts to stop and arrest impaired drivers, deploying extra officers on DUI saturation patrols this Thursday evening to lower deaths and injuries. The DUI operation will be operational from 8:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. Friday morning.

In the rush of party preparations and getting dressed up for a night out, it’s easy to forget the most important Cinco de Mayo plan of all: designating a sober driver. Some fiesta‐goers think they can play it by ear and wait until after the party has started to decide whether they’re “okay to drive.” By this point, it’s too late. Going out for a night of drinking without a plan to get home safely is a recipe for disaster.

Remember: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving, and when you drive drunk, you run the risk of killing yourself or someone else. You will be looking at jail time, the loss of your driver license, higher insurance rates, plus other unanticipated expenses ranging from attorney fees, court costs, car or motorcycle towing and repairs, and lost wages due to time off from work. The average DUI costs about $10,000.

Wouldn’t you rather pay for a ride home?

So before your first margarita, cold beer, or shot of tequila this Cinco de Mayo, make sure you have a designated sober driver or arranged another safe way home. The California Office of Traffic Safety DDVIP (Designated Driver VIP) mobile app is available for free download on iOS and Android devices. The DDVIP app offers to “Map a Spot” with their current location to find DDVIP partnering

establishments in their area or a “List of Spots” to search all participating bars and restaurants throughout California. Users will be offered free incentives at each bar to celebrate their life saving role. They can stay up‐to‐date with the latest from DDVIP and see what other users are saying via its social tab. Also through the app, for those who want to imbibe but also make it a point to plan ahead, users can easily order a sober ride from Uber, Lyft or Curb – all from one screen.

Recent statistics reveal that 30 percent of drivers in fatal crashes had one or more drugs in their systems. A study of active drivers showed more tested positive for drugs that may impair driving (14 percent) than did for alcohol (7.3 percent). Of the drugs, marijuana was most prevalent, at 7.4 percent, slightly more than alcohol. Everyone should be mindful that if you’re taking medication – whether prescription or over‐the‐counter – drinking even small amounts of alcohol can greatly intensify the impairment affects.

A final statistic to remember: drunk or drug impaired driving deaths are 100‐percent preventable.

This enforcement effort is funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reminding everyone to ‘Report Drunk Drivers, Call 911!’