Drunk Driving Fatalities

October 24, 2010

Drunk Driving Fatalities

How often do you hear that more needs to be done to fight DUI and Drunk Driving Fatalities?  How terrible it is to hear that someone was injured or killed by a drunk driver!  Let’s be clear, I am a Los Angeles DUI attorney, whose job is to fight for the drivers accused of a DUI and for that reason I will be biased.  Often my job involves damage control where I play down the facts of a horrible DUI by explaining to the prosecution that other factors, such as depression, psychological conditions, addiction, or just bad luck, contributed to that fateful decision to drive after having some alcohol.

Focusing back on this article’s title, what’s up with all the media attention given to drunk drivers?  Is it really that bad?  Is it a national problem?

According to web AlcoholAlert  where were 9,878 Drunk Driving fatalities in the US in 2011.  The footnote in the webpage explains citing NHTSA that “A motor vehicle crash is considered to be alcohol-related if at least one driver or non-occupant (such as a pedestrian or pedalcyclist) involved in the crash is determined to have had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 gram per deciliter (g/dL) or higher. Thus, any fatality that occurs in an alcohol-related crash is considered an alcohol-related fatality. The term ‘alcohol-related’ does not indicate that a crash or fatality was caused by the presence of alcohol.”

Get it! The 9,878 includes sober drivers who accidentally ran over drunk pedestrians or colliding with drunks on bicycles.  It also includes drivers who tested .01, .02, .03, .04, .05, .06 and .07.  At those levels, all but truck drivers and minors are not DUI in Los Angeles.  If you are arrested at this level, the chances are, you will not be prosecuted, especially if you call Los Angeles DUI attorneys.  The reasons those levels are legal is because most experts think that a person is not impaired at those levels.  So why does the NHTSA includes all accidents with any level of alcohol into their statistics.  Why else if not to inflate it?

Well, lets make a big assumption that the entire 9,878  death is caused by drivers who were impaired.  How does it compare to the number of dead in the US.

Here are some statistics: According to the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/DataStatistics,  in 2007 there are 2,423,712 deaths in the US.  That is equal to 760.2 death per 100,000 people, with car accidents not making the top 15 leading causes of death but being included in No 5 most common way to die.  We are not talking about more recent year, because the CDC latest year with death statistics is 2007.  Here is the break down of the published official top 15 causes of death by percentage in the US.

1. Heart Disease (25.4 %)

2. Malignant Neoplasms (cancer) (23.2 %)

3. Cerebrovascular Disease (stroke) (5.6 %)

4. Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease (5.3%)

5. Accidents (Unintentional) (5.1 %) or 123,706 – includes car accidents death of 43,985

6. Alzheimer’s Disease (3.1 %)

7. Diabetes mellitus (2.9 %)

8. Influenza and Pneumonia (2.2 %)

9. Nephritis (kidney disease) (1.9 %)

10. Septicemia (blood infection) (1.4 %)

11. Intentional Harm (suicide) (1.4 %) 34,598

12. Chronic Liver Disease and cirrhosis (1.2%)

13. Essential Hypertension and Hypertensive Renal Disease (high blood pressure) (1.0 %)

14. Parkinson’s Disease ( 0.8 %)

15. Assault (Homicide) (0.8 %) 18,361

That leaves 18.6% or 451,034 people who died from all the other causes.

Based on CDC number of 2,423,712, only half of a one percent or 4.82 persons per 100,000 people died in 2007 as a result of an alcohol related death.  So let us make another assumption that the number of death in Los Angeles is proportionate to the number of death in the US.  That would mean that in Los Angeles (2006 census estimate 3.85 million people) there would be 185 deaths from alcohol related car accident, or about 15 each month.  While it seems like an unacceptable number, comparing it to the other categories makes it seems less significant.  For example, since there are 22,631 death from falls, it would mean that 273 people fell to death in Los Angeles same year or 22 people each month (much bigger number then 15 who died in alcohol related accidents).  Or how about, there are 2,439 people death each month in Los Angeles from all causes – that’s  81 person per day with ¼ or 600 persons each month to die from heart decease.  Or how about, there are twice as many suicides as death caused by alcohol related accidents, which means every day, there is 1 person who kills himself.  Why isn’t the media focuses on mental health – trying to save the poor souls who take their own lives! How is it less significant then DUI related death?

The point: statistically, alcohol related death is one of the least important causes of death

How much tougher we as society need to be to fight something that is less common then the Parkinson’s disease?  Should we focus on something more common?  Intentional killing (murder) will most likely result in a life in prison for the defendant.  Yet, focusing media attention on murder will have minimal deterrent effect because it is already a crime with the highest penalty under the law.

My argument here is that Drunk Driving in Los Angeles as well as Nationwide is mostly a political issue, used by Los Angeles Prosecutors to get elected.  A perpetrator of a DUI is an easy target, because 1) most DUI prosecutions result from the police pulling over someone who was never arrested before and who gives full cooperation to the law enforcement 2) majority of the suspects plea guilty making the courts a few thousand dollars in the process 3) DUI investigation is a low stress – high pay assignment for a DUI cop.

Bottom Line: we live in a scary world, with overly aggressive prosecution of DUIs, where a victimless crime, such as a DUI, is blown out of the proportion by politics and media.  Unless you hire a professional, such as Los Angeles DUI attorneys, a person suspected of a DUI in Los Angles will not get much sympathy from the prosecutors and judges.  Call Los Angeles DUI Attorneys right now for a free consultation.  Let us help you save your license and avoid jail.

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