Report shows California may not be tough enough on drunk drivers

A WalletHub report ranked California number 34 on the list of states strictest on drunk driving. Neighbor Arizona ranked number one.

There may be no shortage of public awareness campaigns highlighting the dangers associated with drunk driving in California. Sadly, these campaigns fail to get the attention of every driver in the state. Crashes involving alcohol continue to claim the lives of innocent people every year.

Records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that between 2010 and 2014, 46 people were killed in drunk driving accidents in Solano County alone. Across the state, the number of fatalities recorded each of those five years is astounding. In both 2010 and 2011, 774 people deaths occurred and the numbers continued to climb in the following two years. Fatalities numbered 829 in 2012 and 883 in 2013. There were 882 drunk driving deaths in California in 2014.

A new report released by WalletHub makes the case that California may not be strict enough on drunk driving. The above fatality counts seem to support that more could be done.

A look at the report findings

In developing the report, 15 different factors were evaluated. Laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia were scored and compared. While California's neighbor, Arizona, ranked as the strictest state in the nation when it comes to drunk driving, California itself only achieved thirty-fourth place.

Regarding its criminal penalties for drunk driving, California's score put it roughly in the middle of the pack at number 23. It was a score of number 40 for preventive measures that ultimately pulled the overall ranking down.

Some of the metrics utilized included minimum required jail time and minimum fines for first and second DUIs, required use of ignition interlock devices, the existence of sobriety checkpoints, and the effect of a DUI on a driver's insurance costs.

While many states require drivers to install and use IIDs after any DUI conviction, California only mandates it for first-time DUIs if the driver's blood alcohol level was over 0.14 percent. These drivers are also only required to use an IID for a minimum of six months. Some states have a mandatory minimum IID use of one year.

In Arizona, a first DUI may result in a driver spending at least 10 days in jail but in California, only two days. Second DUI jail time starts at 30 days in Arizona but only 10 days in California. These are just some examples of where California has room to improve.

Victim action is important

Even if California's laws are not as tough on drunk driving as those in other states, people involved in drunk driving accidents still deserve help. Talking with an attorney is important after such a crash and can be an important way of seeking appropriate compensation.