BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — California Highway Patrol officials announced a new public education campaign Friday. The series of ads will air throughout the year to encourage Californians to use other travel options if they choose to consume drugs and alcohol, including medications, prescription or over the counter.
“They’re at a party, they’re having fun with friends, whatever the situation is, we need to start watching out for each other and helping everyone make a wise choice. Is it going to make a difference with some? I think, absolutely. Bottom line is if it saves one life then it was worth any effort that we put forward,” said Steve Dowling of California Highway Patrol.
Officials say between 2006 and 2016, the rate of drug related fatalities increased by 35% in California. They also say most of those fatalities were linked to marijuana use.
“Add marijuana to the mix, now legal to use recreationally, and its unpredictable impairing effect. There’s another risk for DUI, crashes, injuries, and even deaths,” said Rhonda Craft of the California Office of Traffic Safety.
According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, on average 4,200 drivers were arrested for driving under the influence in Kern County every year.
To combat that, CHP will continue their maximum enforcement period during the holidays.
“Bakersfield CHP arrested 43 drivers for driving under the influence. Now those are 43 families that didn’t have one of their loved ones there during the holidays or had to suffer some kind of financial loss because of their irresponsibility,” said CHP officer, Robert Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, emphasized that driving under the influence includes medication, such as painkillers, sleep aids and much more.
“It’s cold season. So a lot of people are taking NyQuil or some other cold remedy and sometimes those cold remedies have codeine or alcohol, or something else that causes drowsiness,” said Rodriguez. “So again, please look at the bottle and make sure you read the label on there.”
CHP also warns drivers that choose to drive under the influence that they can face a hefty fine of up to, $13,000 as well as a loss in license.