In the last four weeks, eight people have died in suspected DUI crashes in San Diego.
On Wednesday, a man suspected of driving under the influence crashed into a female driver in Fallbrook, resulting in her death. A four-year old and a two-year old were inside the suspect’s car at the time of the crash.
On Friday morning, two California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers were injured after a suspected drunk driver collided into their patrol car in Lakeside.
According to the San Diego County District Attorney’s office, there were five defendants charged with DUI murder or manslaughter from January to May 2016. In 2014 and 2015, there were 18 defendants also facing DUI murder or manslaughter charges.
CHP says it’s frustrating, that after all the education and awareness, drinking and driving still ruins lives.
“We do put out a lot of education; we put out a lot of presentations on DUI, safety. We go to a lot of social events where we speak of and educate people on the dangers of DUI,” said CHP Officer Josh Nelson. “And yes, we do continue to see it happening, so it’s frustrating.”
Nelson said organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) do a great job of educating people and have made a difference. But some people still make the decision to get behind a wheel while incapacitated.
“We want people to plan ahead, to be prepared,” Nelson said. “If you’re going to out and celebrate, if you’re going to go out and, you know, go to a party, go to a bar or something like that, have fun but plan ahead.”
In an effort to curb DUI’s, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has proposed lowering the blood alcohol level from .08 to .05.
But DUI Attorney G. Cole Casey says this proposed legislation will not solve the problem.
“That does really address the problem. We have a legal limit right now. We’ve had a legal limit for 40 years— people still violate it,” he said.
According to Casey, solutions like interlock devices, breathalyzers that won’t let you start your car if you have been drinking don’t solve the problem.
“There are too many financial interests right now that benefit tremendously from drunk driving,” says Casey.
Casey claims that DUIs create money for lawyers, the court system, police officers, jails and probation departments.
“And you wonder why we're seeing legislation that really doesn't make much of an impact,” he said.
NBC 7 reached out to the District Attorney’s office for a response. Cally Bright, the DUI Homicide Team Leader told us everyone is working toward a common goal—to reduce the number of DUI-related deaths.
But she described Casey’s argument as somewhat callous.