Any substance that impacts a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle can lead to an arrest on suspicion of DUI, California Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Aaron Maurer told the Kiwanis Club of Tehachapi on May 22.
“Alcohol, drugs and medication can lead to a DUI (driving under the influence) charge,” he said. Officers can add a charge of child endangerment if there are children in the vehicle.
To determine if a driver is impaired, an officer looks at “the totality of circumstances,” he said. “Your body does things it can’t control. It reacts differently. Reactions are slow. How are you talking to me? Are you fumbling?
“We take everything into account and come to a conclusion.”
Maurer said drivers should avoid taking medication if the effects are not known. He said he was called to a situation in which a 32-year-old woman, upon leaving a doctor’s appointment, ingested a new prescription on her way home. The drug had an immediate impact on her ability to drive, and she ended up careening across the road and into a ditch. She had a child in the car.
To avoid such a problem, he advised, “Have someone drive you.”
The Mojave-based officer advised drivers to “slow down, be kind and be patient.”
For vacation travelers: “Plan ahead, make sure people know where you are going. Bring water and food. Make sure your tires are good. Maintain your vehicle. Turn on your lights. Plan ahead. Be patient.”
Put the phone down, Maurer said. Be aware of motorcycles. Don’t put on makeup or brush your teeth while you are driving.
The CHP holds a “Start Smart” class for teenagers ages 15 to 19 once a month. The class covers basic vehicle laws, DUIs, what to do in an accident and insurance. For information, call the CHP office at 823-5500. The office also has information about the Senior Volunteer Program and the CHP Explorer program for youths 15-21.
The Kiwanis Club of Tehachapi is a service club that works to improve the lives of children locally and globally. The club meets at noon every Wednesday at the Gold Mountain Sports Tavern, 20601 Highway 202. The club provides a free lunch for guests. For information on the Kiwanis Club, call 822-4515 or 823-4848.
Tina Cunningham is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Tehachapi.