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Driver Arrested at Race Track for DUI While Racing

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Hard-hitting road safety campaign

News reports say that a 64-year-old San Jose, California, man was arrested over the weekend for DUI while in a car race in Watsonville. The Santa Cruz Sentinel writes that the man, Leslie Charles Hunter, was also charged with driving with a blood alcohol level higher than .08 %.

Police were called to Ocean Speedway on Friday, where the “banger” race was being held, Andrei Nedelea writes for Carscoops, noting that a banger race is a “destruction derby on a dirt oval.” The oval measures a quarter mile, Brandon Turkus writes for Autoblog. Hunter was driving erratically at the time, slowing down other drivers and pushing them off the track, Nedelea writes. He adds that local police officer Jacob Gonzales found Hunter in the pit area after the race. No one was injured, the Santa Cruz Sentinel writes.

Commentators were having a field day with this news item. Travis Okulski writes for Jalopnik that Hunter is:

[…] the first person we’ve heard of that has been arrested for suspicion of RUI. Not driving under the influence, but racing under the influence.

And Turkus writes that Hunter’s drinking while racing is “probably the stupidest decision we’ve ever heard of anyone making.” In a comment posted below the Autoblog piece, someone using the name “The Wasp” wonders what the law is:

I don’t mean to excuse his behavior but is it illegal to drive under the influence while on private property? Of course it’s still illegal to endanger other people, but I’m curious how driving laws are applied on private grounds.

And someone posting as “FutureDoc” responds:

23152. (a) It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.

It does not distinguish between ‘public’ or ‘private’ roads. It just says ‘to drive a vehicle’ so I am betting it does not matter if it was on private property or not.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) offers the following statistics about drunk driving:

  • Almost every 90 seconds, a person is injured in a drunk driving crash.
  • An average drunk driver has driven drunk 80 times before first arrest.
  • About one-third of all drivers arrested or convicted of driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence of alcohol are repeat offenders.
  • Over 1.41 million drivers were arrested in 2010 for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.
  • Among persons aged 12 or older, males were more likely than females (15.1% vs. 7.9%) to drive under the influence of alcohol in the past year.
  • The speed of alcohol absorption affects the rate at which one becomes drunk. Unlike foods, alcohol does not have to be slowly digested. As a person drinks faster than the alcohol can be eliminated, the drug accumulates in the body, resulting in higher and higher levels of alcohol in the blood.
  • Impairment is not determined by the type of drink, but rather by the amount of alcohol ingested over a specific period of time.
  • In 2010, 16% of all drivers involved in fatal crashes during the week were drunk driving crashes, compared to 31% on weekends.
  • Alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2010 was four times higher at night than during the day (37% vs. 9%).
  • Adults drank too much and got behind the wheel about 112 million times in 2010 — that is almost 300,000 incidents of drinking and driving each day.
  • Every day in America, another 27 people die as a result of drunk driving crashes.
  • If all 17 million people who admitted to driving drunk in 2010 had their own state, it would be the fifth largest in the U.S.


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