Capt. Sandra Tong: Police Beat
The Christmas and New Year's seasons are fast approaching
- a time for celebrations with friends, coworkers and families.
Unfortunately, at these festive gatherings some people drink
alcoholic beverages before they realize they don't have
a plan to get home safely. Don't let yourself be caught
in a position where you are driving your vehicle after a
party at which you have been drinking. Plan ahead and carpool
with a designated driver, take a taxi or forego the alcohol
for fruit juice.
Alcohol is a drug. Technically, it is a central nervous
system depressant. The fact that it is legal and can be
bought over the counter, like cough medicine, doesn't render
it any less potent.
I have gathered some information generated by SF Police
Department members who train officers about Driving Under
the Influence (DUI) investigations and arrests. The following
are just some highlights from the vast resources available
that could help prevent you from getting behind the wheel
of a car if you have been drinking or help you recognize
the symptoms of someone else who is driving while intoxicated:
• most drivers who die in traffic collisions were
drinking prior to driving;
• most drivers in fatal traffic collisions can be
legally classified as DUI;
• alcohol-related traffic collisions are nine times
more likely to result in death than similar accidents not
• drivers who have been consuming alcoholic beverages
are more likely to take excessive risks;
• drivers who have been drinking are more likely
to have slower reaction times;
• in a special study of people leaving bars between
9 p.m. and 2 a.m., one in seven had a blood alcohol concentration
(BAC) of .10 or greater. The legal limit is .08;
• a conservative estimate is that the typical DUI
violator will drive under the influence 80 times per year,
or one out of every four or five days.
How alcohol consumption translates into what can be a dangerous
level varies greatly depending upon various factors, such
as overall health and whether other medications, either
prescription or over-the-counter, have been ingested. Weight,
level of fatigue, length of time over which the beverages
were consumed and whether the person has eaten are other
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that
a person who has been consuming alcohol will lose good judgment
before he or she loses physical abilities, like balance
and coordination. In other words, you are not your own best
The two greatest driving errors that people who have been
drinking commit are lane/median straddling and excessively
wide turns. So remember, take a taxi and designate a sober
driver if you know you will be drinking at a party. Remember,
there is no safe way to drive while under the influence.
Even one drink can make you an unsafe driver.
The Nov. 16 community meeting had a drunk driving presentation
by Nicamer Tolentino, from the SF Department of Public Health.
The next Richmond District Police/Community Forum will
be held on Tuesday, Dec. 14, at 1 p.m., at the Richmond
Station's community room. Bring a holiday snack to share
and bring ideas and a guest speaker list you'd like to see
implemented next year.
Capt. Sandra Tong is the commanding officer at the Richmond