The California CHP has received a sizable grant to reduce drunk driving. Will the money be used well?

The CHP recently announced a renewed crackdown on drivers that are driving while alcohol impaired. Last year according to the Department of Justice, 217,201 people were arrested in California, as stated in a CHP bulletin of October 29, 2009.

Now the CHP has received a grant of $5.6 Million dollars to the “Boarder-to-Boarder DUI Enforcement Campaign,” designed to reduce drunk driving on our roadways and injuries to our families. Funding was provided by the National Highway Safety Administration and the California Office of Traffic Safety.

The CHP reported an astounding 65,929 fatal and injury collisions in 2008 arising from 9,568 alcohol related collisions. The news release is short on how they will deliver a reduction with the proceeds. However, there were some general statements suggesting officers will enforce more stops for alcohol related observations, and conduct more sobriety check points. The campaign will also increase education by conducting local traffic safety presentations and designated driver programs.

$5.6 Million dollars is a hefty sum to be allocated to this cause. It is a very important cause and one that has caused much human tragedy. However, I am concerned that in a difficult budget crisis and with the State issuing me vouchers for my tax refund, I wonder if educational programs are having the desired effect. More enforcement on the road is certainly beneficial as is the promotion of more likely consequences for arrest while drunk driving.

I hope to report that next year, the spending or $5.6 Million dollars had a significant and measurable result of reduction of danger on our road. Otherwise, I would rather see the money spent on those tragically injured and forever altered because of the conduct of the drunk driver. Only time will tell, and to be fair, efforts over the last few years have been reported to reduce the number of drunken driving accidents.

by James E. Ballidis

James Ballidis is the managing attorney for Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie and has been practicing personal injury law for 25 years.

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