Public Safety

Spike in Fatal DUIs Draws Concern, Increased Crackdown from Law Enforcement

Deadly drunk driving crashes have spiked this summer, killing 11 people since May — six in August alone.

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, Sheriff Bill Gore and other law enforcement leaders are concerned about the troubling number of these fatal accidents.

“This has been a summer of shame when it comes to fatal DUIs,” said Dumanis. “The conduct of the individuals who caused these crashes is horrific. We’ve had drunks driving the wrong way on the highway, individuals consuming alcohol for hours before getting behind the wheel and a young mother driving with her children in the car while using drugs. Tragically, lives have been lost because of these preventable crimes, which should serve as a wakeup call to anyone even thinking about driving under the influence.”

Law enforcement leaders came together Tuesday to announce they will they will be cracking down on suspected DUI drivers as we head into the Labor Day weekend through added sobriety check points and a ‘no tolerance approach’ to impaired driving.

“This is one crime that is entirely preventable,” Sheriff Bill Gore said. “The San Diego Sheriff’s Department has a zero-tolerance policy. You will go to jail if our deputies stop you for driving under the influence.”

One year ago, the DA’s Office launched a DUI Homicide Unit to prosecute fatalities and serious injuries. The unit, made up of two prosecutors and two investigators, has been so busy they have had to rely on additional prosecutors in the office. Funding for this unit comes in part from the California Office of Traffic Safety. Watch more about the DUI Homicide Unit here.

Last year more than 12,330 DUI-related cases were prosecuted in San Diego County. Of that number, the District Attorney’s Office prosecuted 363 DUI with injury cases and 17 involving fatalities. During the same time period, 46 percent of DUI drivers in the county had a blood alcohol content higher than .15 percent – nearly twice the legal limit.

While there has been a spate of fatal DUI crashes, this summer, there is some good news in the area of misdemeanor DUI prosecutions. Since 2010, misdemeanor DUI prosecutions across San Diego County are down 29 percent. What’s causing the decline is unclear, but one reason could be the increased use of ride services like Uber and Lyft.

“These preventable tragedies are caused by deliberate and thoughtless decisions to drive impaired. The resulting pain and suffering to survivors, victim family and friends is unimaginable. The loss they feel is immeasurable and permanent,” said Steve Lykins, Executive Director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Yvette Urrea Moe is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact