Most people in California are well aware that driving a vehicle while intoxicated is illegal. In recent decades, the laws against drunk driving have become stronger with penalties seemingly quite severe. Changes in society, such as the prevalence of ridesharing options, make it easier than ever before to find alternatives to driving after consuming alcohol. These facts, however, seem to be unable to make the level of change in people’s behavior that is really needed.

According to records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Alameda County has recorded three consecutive years in which the number of lives lost at the hands of drunk drivers has increased. In 2013, there were 22 alcohol-related vehicular fatalities in the county. That dropped to 17 the following year but then rose first to 20 in 2015 and to 21 in 2016. In 2017, the county lost 33 people in drunk driving crashes out of 99 total vehicular deaths that year.

In San Joaquin County, drunk drivers were responsible for killing 34 people in 2013, 25 in 2014 and 19 in 2015. In 2016, however, there was a tragic spike in the number of drunk driving deaths to 43. The county recorded 38 such deaths in 2017. Statewide, alcohol was a stated factor in 31% of deaths in motor vehicle accidents in 2017, up from 29% in 2016 and 27% in 2015. Clearly, the current laws and level of public awareness are not sufficient to prevent these deaths.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but is instead meant to give residents in Northern California an idea of how prevalent drunk driving remains today despite strong public awareness about how dangerous it is.