YUBA CITY, Calif. (KTXL) — As the world deals with a pandemic, Tara Repka Flores wants people to keep in mind what she sees as another public health crisis.
“I believe that DUI is an epidemic in our community,” Repka Flores told FOX40.
The Yuba City mother is quick to point out that she is just one of many local people coping with the loss of a loved one at the hands of an intoxicated driver. Her story is one many will recognize.
“My son Alec, this is him. He’s not alive anymore, right? He’s dead. He doesn’t get to do anything,” Repka Flores said.
Alec Flores was walking to school in October 2019 when a driver hit him and took off, leaving him to die. The driver, Constance Addison, was convicted of running into him while driving drunk with her own three children in the car.
“Some people like to think that it’s an accident or a mistake, but I would counter to that, that everyone knows that driving while intoxicated is extremely dangerous and it’s a choice that people make,” Repka Flores said.
In an effort to stop people from making that choice, district attorneys from across California gathered to sound the alarm about a sharp spike in not just drunk driving, but drunk driving that kills people.
For example, take a look at Sacramento County. Between 2017 and 2020 there was a modest increase in their DUI vehicular manslaughter caseload, but from 2020 to 2021, there was a 125% increase.
As far as what’s causing the jump, the prosecutors speculate that everything, from mental health issues to COVID-19 to what one described as a growing culture of lawlessness, play a role.
The district attorney in San Diego County said the blood alcohol reading on a Breathalyzer only tells half the story of what her county is experiencing.
“Those numbers are showing, those tests are showing a combination of marijuana and alcohol, so the combination is deadly. We’re also seeing prescription drugs, valium and other drugs combined with alcohol also produce much higher level of impairment,” said San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan.
The event was largely a public awareness push calling on people not just to make a plan to avoid driving after drinking or using drugs, but also calling on friends, other patrons, anyone who may be around to intervene when they see someone impaired about to get behind the wheel.