News Flash: No One Drove Drunk in Eastvale California Last Thursday Night
The city is Eastvale, California, population 55,000, located at the northwest corner of Riverside County. Police held a DUI saturation patrol there from 4 to 10 p.m., stopping drivers in areas known for drunk driving collisions and arrests.
That night business was very, very bad. Sixteen people were given sobriety tests, but they passed. One driver was issued a citation for a traffic violation. But no one was driving drunk.
Why point it out a police action in which nothing happened? Because there was a time when such a dry spell would have been inconceivable. Not too many years ago a 6-hour saturation patrol would have netted DUIs by the dozen.
Drunk driving is on the decline in California, as it is in most states. The reasons are many, but none of them are accidental.
- Government anti-drunk-driving programs, such as the NHTSA grant that funded this saturation patrol. For years the public has been bombarded with the message that drunk driving kills. PSAs, school programs, and other publicity efforts have gotten the point through to a large percentage of the state’s motorists.
- Enforcement. Gone are the days when a police officer would give a drunk driver a break. It’s now seen as a serious offense, it’s treated that way, and drivers know it.
- High insurance rates. California is a notoriously bad place to get a DUI if you are on any kind of budget, as insurance rates shoot up spectacularly if you have one on your record. Insurance companies know that drunk drivers are bad risks, and they jack up rates prohibitively.
- The rise of alternatives. Rideshare services such as Uber, the #TAXI service, and various designated driver services are out there, and so is the word that a few bucks will save you the hassle of an arrest.
- Ignition interlocks. In California an ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, is required in certain circumstances. The device prevents the vehicle from starting if the driver is impaired. Interlocks are proven to reduce drunk driving collisions and deaths.
Thanks to all of these factors, police were unable to locate a single drunk driver in Eastvale last Thursday night.
Of course, it might be a different story next time. And certainly there are plenty of DUI arrests and alcohol-related crashes all over California, so the problem is still with us. But for one night, the stars aligned, the drunks stayed home or got a sober friend to drive, and the roads in Eastvale were safe.
We know what works in Eastvale can work all over California and the country. Please keep up the pressure on legislators to improve drunk driving on these fronts:
- Better public transportation and access to rideshares
- Mandatory ignition interlocks for all DUI offenses, which have been proven to reduce alcohol-related collisions and deaths
Then maybe all our roads will be as safe as Eastvale’s were last Thursday night.