Is it news that the Orange County Sheriff's Department will be looking extra hard for drunks behind the wheel tonight, or would it be news if they were not?
Either way, the force announced "saturation patrols" will be out there as part of the "Avoid the 38" DUI Task Force, which is funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety through a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) grant.
"Driving impaired is simply not worth the risk," says Sgt. Mark Daigle of the department's Traffic Bureau. "Not only do you risk killing yourself or someone else, but the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest for driving while impaired can be significant."
Just ask Richard Ernest Caselli.
The 37-year-old Ladera Ranch resident was indicted by the grand jury Tuesday on one felony count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated in an Oct. 16, 2009, crash that claimed the life of 51-year-old Brook Boynton.
Caselli is accused of driving at speeds over 100 mph in his Volvo sedan on State Route 73 north of Laguna Canyon Road, and just before 6:30 p.m. that October day he allegedly lost control of his car, which crashed into a Nissan sport utility vehicle driven by Boynton. The force of the crash caused the Nissan to spin out of control and roll, ejecting Boynton onto the right shoulder. He died as a result of his injuries.
After Caselli's Volvo came to a stop and the driver faced responding police officers, he allegedly showed signs of intoxication, including bloodshot and watery eyes, slurred speech, and omitting an odor of alcohol.
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Currently out on $150,000 bail, Caselli could get up to 10 years in state prison if convicted. His arraignment is scheduled for Friday in a Santa Ana courtroom.
"Impaired driving is no accident nor is it a victimless crime," Daigle says. "Driving impaired or riding with someone who is impaired is simply not worth the risk because the consequences are serious and real."
On St. Patrick's Day 2008, 37 percent of the drivers and motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes nationally had a blood alcohol content of .08 or above, according to NHTSA statistics. The "Avoid the 38" DUI Task Force has thus released recommends for a safe St. Paddy's Day.
- Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin;
- Before drinking, designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home;
- If you're impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation so you are sure to get home safely;
- If you see a drunk driver on the road, call 911;
- If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely;
- Designate a sober driver before the party begins.