Tony Mendoza and CHP

CERRITOS, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Today, Calif. Senator Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia), the California Highway Patrol (CHP), California Office of Traffic Safety, Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell’s Office, Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), a drunk driving victim and emergency room physicians held a Holiday Traffic Safety DUI Prevention press conference at the Los Angeles County Hall of Justice.

“As we celebrate the Holidays with family and friends, I believe it is essential to remind people how important it is to drive responsibly to prevent unnecessary tragedies in our community” said Senator Tony Mendoza. “Today’s event sends a clear message encouraging drivers to be responsible by obeying all traffic laws and not drinking and driving.”

“The goals of this multi-agency partnership are to educate our communities on how to keep tragedies out of their celebrations, beginning with reducing the number of alcohol related collisions. We all have the responsibility and, most importantly, the ability to save a life by keeping a friend or loved one from driving while intoxicated,” said CHP Southern Division Assistant Chief Chris O’Quinn.

“During the holidays, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will be keeping the communities safe by continuing our enforcement efforts and public awareness so that we can save lives and reach our goal of zero deaths on our highways,” said Chief Anthony La Berge for Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell.

“Think before you have that drink. If you do get behind the wheel, you just made a decision that may end your life or that of an innocent victim. Please make the right choice. Do not drink and drive,” said Randy Weissman, Chief Deputy, California Office of Traffic Safety.

“The holidays are one of the most dangerous times on our nation’s roadways, with more people traveling, an increased number of festivities where alcohol is served, and a surge in drunk driving. MADD Southern California knows that it takes more than just a few people making safe choices to ensure everyone’s safety on the roads this holiday season and beyond. We urge all Los Angeles area residents to lead by example and help spread the message of planning ahead for a designated non-drinking driver when celebrations include alcohol,” said Patricia Rillera, Regional Director of MADD Southern California.

“As Los Angeles County firefighters, it is our number one mission to save lives. We are on the front lines, responding to alcohol-related crashes—some of them fatal. As Fire Chief, it is my duty to carry the message that life is truly precious so please do not drink and drive. Los Angeles County firefighters will be there, as always, to help protect our residents and communities,” said Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl L. Osby.

“As an emergency room physician, I understand far too well the devastating consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol. We do everything in our power to save lives and heal the injured, but sometimes it is not enough and we have to deliver the most difficult news to the families of those involved in these tragic incidents. The hardest part is knowing that these accidents are preventable. As we celebrate the holidays, I want to encourage everyone not to drink and drive,” said Dr. Larry Stock, President-Elect, California Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

The press conference focused on law enforcement’s efforts to minimize danger on the roads and remind drivers to obey all traffic laws including, wearing seatbelts, not texting while driving and not drinking and driving. Additionally, drunken driving victim, Janelle Weinberg, spoke about losing her daughter Ariel on March 10, 2013 to a drunk driver. The young woman who killed her daughter was so heavily intoxicated that she was driving in the opposite direction.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2013, more than 32,719 people nationwide lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents. In California, more than 3000 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents, 1197 were alcohol related, 246 in Los Angeles County and 70 in Orange County. More than 23,178 people were injured statewide in alcohol involved accidents, 6,338 in Los Angeles County and 1,782 in Orange County.

For information on California traffic safety statistics visit the California Office of Traffic Safety website:

Senator Tony Mendoza, a Los Angeles native and former elementary school teacher in East Los Angeles, represents the 32nd Senate District encompassing portions of Los Angeles and Orange Counties.