SACRAMENTO – Advocates are sounding the alarm over the number of DUI crashes in and around the Sacramento region. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says every 39 minutes in the United States, someone dies as a result of drunk driving.
Rhonda Campbell, a Sacramento-based Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victim Advocate, says the numbers are staggering — but not surprising.
"As a human being, it's shocking, but as an employee of MADD, I already knew what was happening," Campbell said. "It's sad to me on a personal level, because I am also a victim but because I'm also trying to help as many people as I can every day, but the numbers are becoming overwhelming for us."
Campbell's baby sister Irene died because of a drunk driving crash in 1981, and since then, she has been fighting to save other people's lives ever since.
The NHTSA cites over 13,000 deaths in their latest published findings from DUI-related crashes in 2021. Campbell feels with California touting a 30% recidivism rate, more needs to be done to keep people from re-offending.
"Where the disconnect in that message is I don't know. What does that tell me? That tells me we need stiffer penalties because the message isn't getting through," Campbell says. "One of the things MADD has always stood behind – and studies show will make a difference – is that all offenders have an ignition interlock device."
Right now, an ignition interlock device, a small handheld breathalyzer, is only connected to the cars of repeat offenders. MADD wants to see it installed in first-time offenders to prevent them from driving drunk again.
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