How Far Must You Go to Prevent DUIs?

The dangers of drinking and driving carry extra weight heading into this busy Memorial Day weekend after several recent deadly DUI crashes in San Diego ended with tragic consequences.

In some of these situations - we've learned about the extra efforts people made to try and stop the drivers before they got behind the wheel. It begs the question: how far would you go to prevent someone from drinking and driving?

First and foremost - obviously the responsibility lies with the person drinking and potentially driving - but what obligation do others have to prevent it and can they be held legally responsible?

NBC 7 asked locals how far they might go to try to stop a drunk driver.

“[For] friends and family, I’d go as far as I could to try and get those keys. But an individual I don’t know, I can’t necessarily get physical with them but do everything I can to try and stop it,” said one San Diego resident.

“I would stop them. I would try to retrain them and then contact security,” said one local woman.

Earlier this month, 21-year-old U.S. Marine Jason Riley King drove the wrong way on State Route 163 in Mission Valley, plowing his truck into a Prius packed with five people. The impact killed two UC San Diego medical students in the Prius, Anne Li Baldock, 24, and Madison Elizabeth Cornwell, 23.

According to prosecutors, King was having drinks with friends at the Mission Valley Hotel on the night of the deadly crash. Several people – including friends and even a bar manager – tried to stop King from leaving the bar and driving drunk that night.

But, sadly, those efforts were not enough to stop the tragedy.

Steve Lykins, executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), encourages people to call 911 if they suspect a stranger is about to drink and drive.

“Certainly, I think we all have social responsibility,” said Lykins. “Can we make somebody do it. No.”

But, for friends, Lykins said the plan starts before the night begins.

"If you wait until you're out there and have something to drink and then decide how you're going to get home, you're going to make a bad call many of the times,” he said.

Still, telling a friend what to do in a situation like this can prove challenging, so having a plan in place can help.

"[There have been] a couple instances where I've had to take the keys while they're intoxicated,” said one San Diego resident. “It’s been harder. They definitely put up a fight, so I just don't want to go there, so usually we talk about it at the beginning of the evening.”

Meanwhile, the deputy district attorney investigating the SR-163 crash involving King said the DA’s office has never encountered a case where someone other than the DUI suspect is held criminally responsible.

It is a California misdemeanor for bartenders to serve habitual drunks or to anyone "obviously intoxicated,” but when we asked for the most recent stats on overserving violations we found just 32 last year for the entire state of California.

“We’ve also got an issue for staffing for ABC and there’s only so many people who can get involved in the investigation of these cases,” Lykins said.
Lykins hopes these horrible crashes don't go unnoticed, but the problem remains.

Early Friday morning CHP officers arrested a woman suspected of driving under the influence who had crashed her car twice before they finally caught up with her, preventing more damage and possible heartache.

Certain cities in San Diego County have a Social Host Ordinance, but these cases mostly apply to parents being held responsible for parties and underage drinking in their home.

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