FRESNO, California. (KSEE) – According to California Highway Patrol, 50 people in the Central Valley have lost their lives this year because of drivers under the influence.
Each victim’s family gets a phone call from officers like Mike Salas.
“It’s not only heartbreaking to the family but equally as heartbreaking to those officers that are making that announcement to that family, letting them know that their family members are never coming home as a result of someone’s mistake of drinking and driving,” Salas said.
CHP reports more than 300 DUI-related crashes in Fresno County so far this year. Alcohol is involved in almost 10% of all traffic collisions.
“We’re a little more than halfway into the year, and we’re already seeing an increase in not only the amount of DUI crashes but also DUI arrests,” Salas said.
In the past three days, three people have died from accidents officers believe involved impaired drivers. On Monday night, 21-year-old Manuel Landaverde lost his life while traveling to Kerman with his family – an infant in the backseat.
“Tragic and traumatic for everyone involved. You see the looks on the family’s faces, the officers, emergency personnel out there. It’s one of the worst ones we’ve seen in a long time,” Salas said.
Salas believes the increase in DUIs might be a result of the economy reopening from last year.
“Now that the economy is back open, we have our bars, our pubs. People are now consuming more alcohol than the year prior,” he said.
The CHP has a DUI checkpoint planned in the near future at an undisclosed location in the county.
“It’s not set up for anything other than to try and remove those impaired drivers and keep the roadways as safe as possible,” Salas said.
CHP reminds citizens to always have a designated driver or use services like Uber and Lyft. If you notice a driver that might be under the influence, call 9-1-1.