The financial and human costs of drunk driving in California

The financial and human costs of drunk driving in California

The campaign to end drunk driving has been in place for decades. It is a three-pronged approach that includes public awareness campaigns, increasingly strict DUI laws and ever-stronger enforcement of those laws. Still, drunk driving remains a pervasive problem on U.S. roads.

According to a recent study, four California cities are on the list of the top-10 cities with the highest rates per capita of alcohol-related car accident fatalities. Two of the cities are in Southern California, including San Bernardino and Riverside.

The analysis was based on crash data for 2010-2012. During those years, San Bernardino had the highest per-capita rate of fatal alcohol-related crashes of any U.S. city. It had drunk driving crash rates that were nearly six times higher than the national average.

Riverside was third on the top-10 list from 2010-2012. It had drunk-driving crash rates about three times higher than the national average. Rounding out the list were Fresno and Sacramento, ranked 7th and 9th respectively.

The good news is that drunk drivers often face significant financial penalties as well as criminal charges. In San Bernardino, for instance, a driver with a DUI on his record can expect to pay auto insurance premiums that are 135.06 percent higher than they would otherwise be. The rate increases are even steeper in Riverside, Fresno and Sacramento.

The bad news is that the costs of drunk driving (both financial and human) affect all of us. In 2012, drunk-driving accidents on U.S. roads claimed the lives of 10,322 people. In purely economic terms, losses related to drunk-driving accidents total about $199 billion annually.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by a drunk driver, the feelings of loss and hardship can be overwhelming. For this and other reasons, you may wish to pursue a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

Source: NerdWallet, " The Most Dangerous Cities: DUIs, Deaths and Your Insurance," John Kuo, July 21, 2014

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