PALM DESERT, Calif. - "I've worked other areas of Riverside County in my career, and I will say for a fact it's much easier to find impaired drivers in the valley than anywhere I worked. That tells me from my experience there is more impaired driving out here than other areas of Riverside County," Captain Kevin Vest of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department said.
Coachella Valley Association of Governments created the Blue Ribbon Commission after community members stepped up saying they want change. Those at the forefront - local politicians, members of law enforcement, local healthcare, and the community.
"There are still collisions that happen almost daily, and usually there's a fatal traffic collision once a month somewhere in the valley," Vest said.
A recent tragedy fueled the need for change even more. A drunk driver hit and killed Celena Nava while she was jogging with her friend in Coachella. An outcry followed, on social media and in the community.
"I don't think there has ever been the excitement against addressing drunk driving as there is now," Dale Gribow, attorney at law and an advocate for the Blue Ribbon Commission, said.
The committee wants grants for billboards, public service announcements, and educational high school classes - to create awareness, especially about misconceptions.
"You go to a bar and they serve you a three or four ounce drink, that's three four drinks. It's the amount of alcohol not the number of drinks," Gribow said.
As the committee continues to spread their message, they hope people truly listen.
"This is not a law enforcement solution. Adding officers and expecting us to be able to apprehend every drunk driver will not fix the problem. It's more of a societal issue," Vest said.
"The primary responsibility is within the individual who remembers people like Celena Nava who has died. It is not worth it, not worth drinking and driving," Congressman Raul Ruiz said.
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