While the award for strictest overall DUI laws in the United States goes to Arizona, California is no pushover when it comes to punishing DUI. It begins with an immediate suspension of the accused driver’s license, before the criminal part of the proceedings. Once convicted, a driver in California guilty of DUI may see up to six months in prison, license suspension of a minimum of four months, three months of DUI school, 3-5 years of DUI probation, mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device. If the DUI charge involves an accident that caused injury or death, these basic penalties can quickly get much, much worse.
Despite these harsh penalties, KEYT reports that California is among six states that are seeing a rising rate of DUI deaths over the last decade.
After analyzing data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, an insurance comparison website found that California saw 987 DUI-related fatalities in 2000. In 2017, there were 1,120 DUI-related fatalities.
This results in an increase of 13.47% in drunk driving fatalities, giving California the number four spot for the largest DUI-related fatalities in the country. Even worse, California is only one of six states to see an increase.
Nationally, there was an overall decrease in the number of drunk driving fatalities, showing an 18% decrease over that same time frame.
The California Highway Patrol is acknowledging the problem, stating that 2018 saw 66,000 arrests statewide, an increase of four percent over 2017.
Public service announcements are focusing on reminding drivers of the financial hit. After fines and fees and paying a lawyer, it could add up to $15,000 or more. That doesn’t even cover the insurance hike, which could increase a driver’s rates three times what they pay before the DUI.