Mayor, Headlines Turn Spotlight on DUII

A New York Times report this weekend about a terrible multi-vehicle crash in Nevada is a reminder of the importance of issues Portland’s own mayor has spent the last few weeks spotlighting.

A Reuters news agency dispatch, republished by the Times, cites local law enforcement, reporting that “five members of a California family were killed in Nevada when their van was struck from behind by a teenage driver who was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.” The 18-year-old driver suffered minor injuries in the crash which reportedly happened when he rear-ended the van. In addition to the five people who died two other members of the same family were also riding in the van and were treated in area hospitals following the DUII accident. The crash took place on Interstate-15 about 80 miles north of Las Vegas.

The accident comes as Portland mayor Charlie Hales has worked to spotlight an increase in DUII incidents in our city. As a recent report in The Oregonian noted, “five of the 11 people killed in Portland traffic crashes since Jan. 1 involved people driving under the influence.” Hales has sought to use the media to publicize a situation he views with “alarm” and to remind Oregonians: “Drive sober to save lives. Doing otherwise is illegal and reckless,” the paper notes, adding that the current pace of DUII-related fatalities in Portland is well ahead of last year’s.

The Oregonian notes that the Portland Bureau of Transportation has been organizing neighborhood meetings to solicit input on ways to improve Portland traffic safety. The next such meeting is scheduled to be held April 8 in the Powellhurst-Gilbert area.

As a Portland attorney experienced in helping DUII victims and their families it is heartening to see attention being paid to DUII, a problem that sometimes seems to defy the best efforts to end it. We can only make progress on this score through a combination of education – through the media, blogs, our schools and public officials – and through efforts at accountability through out court system. People should not need to be reminded either that drinking and driving is wrong or that failing to heed that warning could open them up to significant legal issues. Unfortunately the reminders are necessary, as is the justice offered by courts when our fellow citizens fail to do what it right.

Reuters via The New York Times: Five Family Members Die in Nevada Crash, Teen Charged With Drunken Driving

The Oregonian: Portland Mayor Hales ‘alarmed’ by surge in DUII traffic deaths

KATU: Mayor: Spike in deadly Portland crashes ‘unacceptable’