Pennsylvania might have fewer DUI-related crashes than it did in the past, but each DUI still has a victim.
That was the point of a discussion at a City Council session chaired by Council member Bruce Kraus to discuss driving under the influence.
Kraus represents the South Side—the scene of some recent highly publicized DUI incidents.
One such incident Kraus noted allegedly involved Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Alameda Ta’amu, a fourth-round pick out of the University of Washington.
“He drove through the streets of the South Side, two and a half times the legal limit. He almost struck three of our city of Pittsburgh police officers that had gone into the street drawing their weapons to get Mr. Ta’amu to stop,” Kraus said. “He blatantly ignored them; officers physically had to dive out of his path.”
Ta'amu has been charged with aggravated assault, aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI, and fleeing an officer.
According to numbers from the state, there were 11,805 crashes caused by DUI in 2011, a decrease from the 12,426 caused by DUI in 2010. There was also a decrease in crashes resulting in death, going from 408 in 2010 to 393 in 2011.
Kraus, however, said DUI victims are more than just numbers.
“People are flesh and blood,” he said. “They’re no different than our wives, our husbands, our sons, our daughters, our children, our nieces, our nephews, our co-workers, our loved ones, our neighbors, and that reading a statistic is not the same as hearing directly from someone who has been impacted by the crime of DUI.”
Tracy van Dyke, Victim Services Specialist for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in Allegheny County, said she wants to emphasize the impact left on victims.
“The victims are the persons really impacted here through DUI, the crime of DUI, the selfish act of DUI,” she said.
The legal blood-alcohol level in Pennsylvania is .08 for motorists over the age of 21, and driving under the influence of anything, be it drugs or alcohol, can result in jail time, license suspension, and fines ranging from $500 to $5,000.