Cinco de Mayo is quickly approaching. This is one of my favorite holidays and I’m getting ready to celebrate with some tacos! Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican Army’s victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. It has evolved over the years into a popular celebration, especially among young adults, of all ethnic heritages and cultures. Like a lot of holiday celebrations, often these festivities include alcoholic beverages. Unfortunately, many partygoers drink alcohol and drive impaired, unnecessarily risking their lives and the lives of others. As you plan your celebrations, let’s address some safety concerns.
Please do not drink and drive. The law is explicit: driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or more is illegal. Even with a lower BAC, a driver may be a hazard and can be taken to jail. Driving under the influence of marijuana, prescription drugs, and/or other drug use is also illegal. In 2015, the California Highway Patrolmade 64,335 arrests for driving under the influence.
With proper planning, a DUI arrest is avoidable. Do not drink if you are the driver. If you do drink, ride with someone who has not been drinking, use public transportation, call a taxi, use a ride-share company, or stay where you are for the night. A popular option among couples and groups in recent years has been selecting a designated driver.
Do not, under any circumstances, let your friends drive impaired. Recognize if someone you are with is about to make the poor choice and get behind the wheel. Do not be afraid to take their keys. Call for an alternate mode of transportation, and make sure your friends get home safely.
If you are driving and you see a drunken driver, please call 9-1-1 and report it. Stay as far away from the other vehicle as possible. Do not try to pass the vehicle or signal the driver to pull over. Take notice of the license-plate number along with details of the vehicle, including make, model, and color. However, make sure you do not compromise your own safety trying to obtain this information. Give the exact location of the vehicle, including the name of the road or cross streets and the direction the vehicle is traveling. Give a complete description of the vehicle and the manner in which the vehicle is being driven.
The average cost of a first offense DUI is about $15,000, so the expense of alternate transportation is a bargain.
If you are planning a house party, here are some tips to make the event a successful one. Make it invitation only and let people know it is an exclusive party. Stick with friends who will obey this rule of no drinking and driving and your other rules are likely to be followed. Lock up your valuables so they can’t be damaged or stolen. Have children or pets stay away from the party area or, if possible, have them stay with other family members. This helps you keep them safe. If children are going to be in the house, have some games or activities for them to participate in throughout the night. Never serve alcohol to minors and of course, call for alternate transportation for anyone who has been drinking. Remember, buzzed driving is drunken driving. Hosts and homeowners can be liable for any harm that comes to party guests on their property.
As CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow likes to say: “There are no excuses when it comes to driving under the influence. Alternative transportation is easily accessible in California, so celebrate responsibly and plan ahead.”
Officer Traci Gallian can be reached at email@example.com. For more from the CHP Central Division, go to the division’s Facebook page.