No St. Patrick’s Day luck for DUI motorists

     Don’t think the luck of the Irish will help you get home safely if you plan to drink and drive or get a ride from someone who has been drinking.

     So says local law enforcement, as they gear up for their annual St. Patrick’s Day Avoid the Nine DUI crackdown Tuesday.

     “St. Patrick’s Day is supposed to be a time to celebrate Irish heritage and gather with friends, but it can quickly end in tragedy due to impaired driving,” said Chief Richard Ehle of the Capitola Police Department. “If you plan on drinking, don’t rely on luck to keep you safe or to keep you out of trouble. Be responsible and take appropriate precautions.”

     Impaired driving is the No. 1 killer on state and national highways. According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunken driving caused 1,489 deaths and 30,641 injuries in California in 2007, the latest year statistics are available.

     Nationally, 41,059 people nationwide were killed and 12,998 were injured in motor vehicle crashes where the impaired driver’s blood alcohol concentration was at or above the legal limit of .08.

     As for St. Patrick’s Day, 851 people lost their lives and 327 others were injured during the past five years.

     In an attempt to curb those statistics and keep the roads safe, black and whites will saturate the road Tuesday as every available officer will be on the lookout for toasted motorists.

     I will be happy to see them.

     For those of you who don’t follow the daily blog at www.santacruzlive.com/blogs/streetsmarts, I was hit by a drunken driver last Sunday morning.

     It was about 3:45 a.m. (after the time change) when my two friends and I were headed home from a girls’ night out in San Francisco.

     I was driving down southbound 101 about ¼-mile before the Ralston Avenue exit in San Mateo County when there was a screeching sound. My car’s cabin suddenly lit up. Then, boom.

     The impact sent my Chevy Aveo jolting forward and to the left. We were in the second lane from the median divide and the collision sent my car on a straight course toward the concrete barrier. I corrected our heading, steered into the center emergency lane, turned on my hazard lights and dialed 911.

     Somehow, between the collision and the phone call, I watched as the other car spun around 180 degrees in a clockwise motion to a north facing position in the southbound lanes. Without braking, the car then drove off the road, down the embankment and into the sound wall.

     Thank goodness no one was injured – just property damage, as my car has scratches and dents along the rear right bumper and quarter-panel where the other car clipped me.

     The other driver’s car was totaled when she hit the wall. She was arrested for DUI.

     Chief Ehle urges St. Patrick Day revelers to make a party plan before the drinking begins.

  • Designate a sober driver to shuttle you home.
  • If that’s not an option, call a taxi, sober friend or family member, or use public transportation to get home safely.
  • If you see a drunken driver on the road, call 911.
  • If someone you know is about to drive while impaired, take their keys and help them make other transportation arrangements.

     Street Smarts is written by Ramona Turner and appears Mondays. Read the daily blog at www.santacruzlive.com/blogs/streetsmarts. If you have a transportation question or idea, send it to streetsmarts@santacruzsentinel.com or post it on the blog, Facebook.com or Twitter.com. Be sure to include a name, city of residence and daytime telephone number or email address.

This entry was posted in accidents, Capitola Police, CHP, Driver safety, Driving impaired, DUI, Motorcycles, pedestrians, Public safety, Rude/Unsafe Drivers, Santa Cruz Police, Scotts Valley Police, Senior drivers, Traffic collisions, traffic hazards, Watonville Police and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to No St. Patrick’s Day luck for DUI motorists

  1. ken randal says:

    please explain about the new hwy 1 web cam-whats the url and will your paper use it?

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