Driving under the influence in Oakley could be become a very expensive mistake. California government code allows the City to recover costs arising from an emergency response to an accident involving a person driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Last Tuesday night the Oakley City Council added a new section to the Oakley Municipal Code. The new ordinance expanded and clarified the recovery costs arising from an emergency response to an incident involving a person driving under the influence.
California Government Code Sections 53150 through 53159 establishes the statutory framework allowing public agencies to recover emergency response costs from persons who intentionally or negligently cause incidents requiring an emergency response. Section 53150 describes the circumstances under which a person driving under the influence may be liable for the expense of an emergency response:
“Any person who is under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or any drug, or the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and any drug, whose negligent operation of a motor vehicle caused by that influence proximately causes any incident resulting in an appropriate emergency response, and any person whose intentionally wrongful conduct proximately causes any incident resulting in an appropriate emergency response, is liable for the expense of an emergency response by a public agency to the incident.”
So what is an emergency response? Section 53156(a) states:
“(a) “Expense of an emergency response” means reasonable costs incurred by a public agency in reasonably making an appropriate emergency response to the incident, including the costs of providing police, firefighting, rescue, and emergency medical services at the scene of the incident, but shall only include those costs directly arising because of the response to the particular incident.”
In CHP v. Superior Court of Alameda County (Allende) (2006) Cal.App. LEXIS 3, the court held that based on Government Code Section 53150, “incident” necessarily means something more than the negligent operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant. As used in Section 53150, an incident is any event that proximately causes an emergency response by a public agency. Although an accident is not necessary to trigger the right to reimbursement, an ordinary arrest, even for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, is not sufficient.”
The new City ordinance states: “Calculation of the amount due for an “emergency response” shall include all actual costs incurred by the City in responding to the incident, including salary, benefits and overhead…for each member of the police responding to the incident, the cost of equipment on scene, and the cost of repairing or replacing equipment damaged at the scene. This also include the cost of obtaining medical assistance, removing vehicles, investigating the cause of the accident, conducting field sobriety test, arrests and detention of the suspects, time spent traveling to and from the scene, transporting the suspect, booking the suspect, performing chemical test, writing customary reports and follow up investigation needed to complete reports.”
The City of Oakley has a police force well trained in identifing drivers who may be under the influence. It now has a law that will hopefully be financially painful for individuals that want to party hardy and then attempt to drive in our City.