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CA Department of Motor Vehicles Licensing Operations Division Research and Development

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CA Department of Motor Vehicles Licensing Operations Division Research and Development

DUI Fatalities Cut in Half

Clifford J. Helander

Alcohol-involved traffic fatalities continued to decline in 1995 (-9.7%), and have dropped by over half since 1987 (-51%), according to the 1997 Annual Report of the California DUI Management Information System. Alcohol-involved injuries also declined for the ninth consecutive year in 1995 (-6.3%), resulting in a 46.3% decline over the nine-year period. Arrests for driving under the influence (DUI) also decreased again in 1995, although at a much slower rate (-3.7%) than in prior years. However, the most recent administrative per se (APS) license suspension data for DUI arrests made in fiscal year (FY)1995/96 showed a 10.7% increase over the prior year, indicating that the downward trend in DUI arrests may have ended during early 1996. Because the 45% decline in DUI arrests from 1990 (the year APS was enacted) through 1995 has been virtually mirrored by similar declines in alcohol-involved fatalities (-44%) and injuries (-42%) over the same time period, these data appear to reflect a genuine reduction in the frequency of DUI incidents in California, rather than a statistical artifact. If this relationship remains true to form, however, the very recent rise in APS actions in FY 1995/96 may forecast a reversal in trend and an unfortunate rise in the number of alcohol-involved traffic injuries and fatalities in California.

Other highlights from the 1997 DUI-MIS report include the following:

  • The average blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of convicted DUI offenders in California in 1994 was .168%, or more than double the illegal per se limit of 0.08%.
  • The proportion of repeat offenders among all DUI convictees continued to decline in 1994, and now stands at 31.2%.
  • 13.2% of all 1994 DUI arrests were associated with a reported traffic accident, and almost half of those accidents involved injury or fatality.
  • Alcohol treatment, in conjunction with license restriction, remains the most effective sanction in reducing DUI recidivism, while license suspension remains the most effective sanction in terms of overall accident reduction.
  • The conviction rate for DUI offenses in 1995 is estimated to be 73%. An additional 10% of DUI arrestees are also convicted, but for lesser plea-bargained offenses including reckless driving.

Copies of the 1997 Annual Report of the California DUI Management Information System are available by writing California Department of Motor Vehicles' Research and Development Branch, 2415 1st Avenue, MS F-126, Sacramento, CA 95818.


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