Tuesday, December 20, 2011

National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month

The month of December brings many holiday celebrations that often include alcohol. Consequently, December tends to produce more than average intoxicated drivers carelessly sharing our roads.

In an effort to spread public awareness, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and several other agencies have named December "National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month," a campaign created to educate the community about the seriousness of driving under the influence of substances and its devastating consequences.

Every time we drive, we are unfortunately faced with the possibility of falling victim to an impaired driver’s rash mistake. According to NHTSA, three out of every ten Americans will be involved in a motor vehicle accident involving drunk driving during their lives. Accidents related to drunk and drugged driving claim the lives of thousands of Americans every year and have become one of the deadliest crimes in America today. Impaired drivers continue to roam our streets and put the lives of our family and friends at risk.

In response, CalVCP has joined the campaign to spread public awareness. As an agency dedicated to assisting victims of crimes, we would like you to know that victims of drunk and drugged driving accidents are able to receive compensation through our program. CalVCP has helped 809 drunk and drugged driving victims and paid an estimated $2.8 million since January 2010. Our claimants received compensation that covered mental health treatment, income and support loss, medical bills, funeral costs, and rehabilitation.

CalVCP is committed to creating healthier communities and we would like to offer you ways to fight back against drunk and drugged driving. The NHTSA has provided tips for those hosting or attending holiday parties:
  • Include a reminder about selecting a designated driver in your invitation.
  • If you are going to serve alcohol, be certain to offer guests non-alcoholic drinks as well.
  • Ensure that all guests leave with a sober driver; if necessary, call a taxi for a guest or even take their keys. Remember, “Friends don’t let friends drink and drive."
  • Dial 911 if you see any suspicious drivers.
Please play your part this year in spreading awareness of drunk and drugged driving. And remember, don’t let drunk and drugged driving prevention be a seasonal concern; our communities should work together to help prevent these tragedies all year long.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Protecting Crime Victims for the Long Haul

Earlier this year, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 898, a bill that will help California continue to provide necessary funds to victims of violent crime and help them with the high costs associated with those crimes. This new legislation increases minimum fines placed on offenders for felonies and misdemeanors for the first time in nearly 20 years. The last time minimum fines were increased to protect crime victims who had suffered out-of-pocket expenses was 17 years ago, in 1994. At that time, gasoline was just over $1.00 per gallon, and a gallon of milk was $2.88. Today, those prices have more than tripled and doubled. You can imagine how the cost of medical treatment has risen since then. The California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) relies heavily on these fines to take care of the needs of California’s crime victims. This is why an increase, along with imposing and collecting restitution, is more important than ever. Restitution does more than impose a fine; it holds the offender accountable and helps with the healing process for the victim. Increasing fines to be sure the program can meet the needs of victims for years to come is paying respect to the victims and their families who often endure a lifetime of struggle.

CalVCP covers horrific crimes such as domestic violence, child abuse, sexual and physical assault, homicide, robbery, drunk driving, and vehicular manslaughter. In Fiscal Year 2010/11, the program paid out nearly $96 million to victims. This year, we anticipate the costs to be even higher. We help the victims through those fines paid by criminal offenders, not tax-payer dollars.

As we know, the California Victim Compensation Program is the last hope for many crime victims. With offenders paying more, we can be there to help.