According to a recent report released by the California Highway Patrol (CHP), the number of wrong-way crashes involving at least one driver who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs is on the increase across the state.
ABC 10 reports that officials say that wrong-way crashes have been increasing every year; a large number of the incidents are alcohol-related.
Officer Bryce Bandilla of the Auburn Police Department told ABC that just last week, he witnessed a wrong-way driver going the wrong way on Interstate 80 without his headlights.
“It was going eastbound on the westbound offramp of 80,” Officer Bandilla recounted. “I said, ‘Oh, boy, this is not good!’ I was just thankful I was in the right place at the right time.”
Bandilla told ABC that last year there were 120 DUIs in Auburn in 2022. As of this writing, there have already been 50 DUI incidents in Auburn in 2023.
Not every wrong-way incident has witnesses to call in time for the drivers to be apprehended by law enforcement before a crash happens. One woman who lost her mother to a wrong-way DUI crash in the spring of 2009 said that when it happens, surviving family members experience not only horror or darkness, “it’s a whole lot worse than that.”
She expressed gratitude that Officer Bandilla could save someone in Auburn last week because it was a horrible choice that the DUI motorist made that night. “It’s simple,” she said. “If you are going to drink, plan. Don’t drive.”
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) estimates that those who drink and drive will do so approximately 80 times before they are caught. In California, even a first time DUI results in an average of $13,500 in fines and penalties and a suspended license for a year.