Crash victim reacts to rise in DUI arrests - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Crash victim reacts to rise in DUI arrests

Traci Jacob Traci Jacob

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Honolulu police made more arrests for driving under the influence in 2008 than they did the year before.

It's difficult for authorities to say whether the jump in the number of arrests means more people are drinking and driving, or is simply due to increased enforcement.

One woman shows us how a DUI crash changed her life.

Traci Jacob drinks her coffee using a straw, and asks her cat to come to her.

Nearby, her ballet shoes hang on her bedroom mirror.

"I accept the fact now that I'm never going to dance again," the DUI crash victim said.

Traci was 19 years old and living on the mainland, when she and her friends made a decision that changed the rest of her life.

"We played in a volleyball tournament," she said. "And we won this tournament so we were getting pretty wasted."

She lost her right arm and suffered many other injuries, when the car she was riding in slammed into a utility pole. The 18-year-old driver had been drinking.

"I had a broken pelvis, a broken jaw, broken left hip and a head injury, a very serious head injury," Jacob said.

People on Oahu are continuing to drink and drive. According to a new police report, officers made 4,316 DUI arrests in 2008, nearly 400 more than the year before.

There was no significant change in the average blood-alcohol level -- 0.152 in 2008 compared to 0.153 in 2007. But 0.15 is nearly twice the legal limit.

Traci wants drivers to look at her and realize the dangers.

"It's not the movies when people get a broken bone, then next, after the commercial, they're back to normal," she said.

Now 44, she says she is over the anger and depression, and finds pleasure in speaking to kids. She recalls a recent conversation with a student.

"He remembered hearing me on Maui and, because of me, he didn't get into the car," she said. "That was quite a fuzzy moment."

As expected, HPD's Traffic Division, which carries out enforcement around Oahu, made the most DUI arrests in 2008. It had 975.

Officers in District 4 -- Kailua, Kaneohe and Kahuku -- made 591 arrests.

District 7, East Honolulu, was also a hot spot with 586.

Officers in District 8, Kapolei to Waianae, had the least with 217.

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