Diversity Is Strength! It's Also…Drunk Driving

[Recently by Brenda Walker: The Sierra Club Toxifies Itself]

Thought for Cinco de Mayo: take cover. America's highways are becoming far more dangerous because of cultural differences—unassimilated foreigners who believe that knocking down 10 beers before hitting the road is no problema. And drunk driving is an accepted behavior among Mexicans in particular.

Americans have changed their outlook regarding this irresponsible activity over the past few decades partly because of the commendable consciousness-raising efforts of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). But there has been no such cultural shift among Mexicans or in Mexico. There are laws against drunk driving there, but a small bribe to the arresting officer may be all that is required to fix things. Mexico City police actually suspended breathalyzers and checkpoints on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve last year, saying that drunks would sleep it off before driving.

Traditionally, drinking to excess is valued in Mexican and Latin culture, where it is seen an expression of machismo. Moreover, MADD reports that Hispanics believe it takes 6-8 drinks to affect driving, while Americans think it takes 2-4 drinks.

In 2001, according to MADD, 44.1 percent of California's drunk driving arrests in 2001 were of Hispanics, although Hispanics made up only 31.3 percent of the state's population.

The general incidence of drunk driving has worsened in California—parallel with the skyrocketing Latino population. Accidents involving drunk drivers increased overall nearly 5 percent in the state in 2000, with an uptick in Los Angeles County of 7.6 percent in that year. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for Hispanics ages 1-44.

Experts on the front lines agree that extreme drunkenness is not uncommon in DUI arrests of Latinos. Austin police officer Robert Smith, who has worked the late-night drunk patrol for over three years, noted higher rates of blood alcohol: "One thing I have noticed is that the Hispanics I arrest for DWI, 90 percent of the time, are more drunk than the white and black people I arrest."

Assistant Dean at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Dallas Raul Caetano put it this way, "The profile of a drunk driver in California is a young Hispanic male, and I bet you have a similar situation all over the Southwest." He referred to a national survey, saying, "The traditional pattern of drinking in Mexico is one of infrequent drinking of high amounts." [A troubling trend: Hispanics and DWI Latinos account for nearly half of 2002 Austin arrests By Claire Osborn and Andy Alford Austin American-Statesman Sunday, July 20, 2003]

Statistics from Austin support the observations of these men:  Of 3,007 drunken driving arrests in 2002, 43 percent involved Hispanic men, even though they comprised only about 11 percent of the city's driving population. And the story is similar elsewhere: North Carolina drunk driving arrests of Hispanics in 2000 amounted to 12.3 percent of the total 87,781 DUI arrests, while Latinos were 4.7 percent of the population according to the Census.

Beyond the drunk driving statistics are tragedies that have been devastating to American families.

  • Kenny Shackleford lost his 19-year-old son Christopher to a drunk-driving illegal alien. "I view drunk drivers as highway terrorists," Shackleford said. "They're terrorizing everybody, they're killing people right and left."

Christopher, an aspiring film maker at Georgia State University, was one of three young people who were killed when a car driven by a drunken Mexican crossed the center line and crashed into them head-on. Julieanne Pasco of Kennesaw and Miechelle Bourgeois of Woodstock also died in the accident.

Illegal alien Sergio Montelongo-Sanchez had more than twice the legal blood alcohol when he caused the crash: he had reportedly drunk 10 to 15 beers before driving. In May 2001, Montelongo-Sanchez pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in the deaths of three people, DUI, reckless driving, possession of alcohol by a minor, and several other charges. For all that, he was sentenced to 45 years in prison.

  • Tricia Taylor, 18, of Clarkston, Michigan, and companion Noah Menard, were walking to his car after attending a concert in Pontiac when both were struck and severely injured by Jose Carcamo, whose car was traveling between 50 and 75 miles per hour on a street posted for 25 mph. One report stated that Carcamo has had 17 violations since 1995. The INS had twice begun deportation proceeding against Carcamo to return him to El Salvador, but did not follow through.

In this crime, Carcamo was found to have been driving under the influence, with a blood alcohol level of .08.

As Tricia Taylor stated at Carcamo's sentencing, "What you give him won't come close to the sentence he gave me for the rest of my life." She lost both legs above the knees [See photo] and faces a life of pain and disability, while Carcamo will serve only 3 to 5 years in prison.

Carcamo sent a note of apology to Taylor and Menard, but misspelled the names. She responded, "It hurts me every time I see him. He acts like he's sorry, but you'd think he would know our names." She is not forgiving, either: "I have my whole life with no legs ... I'm only 18. He gets no forgiveness."

  • The tragic death of 18-year-old Gary Selby in 1992 has been made even worse for his family because Samuel Avalos Gallardo, the illegal alien who killed him in a drunk-driving accident, was mistakenly placed by the Nevada Department of Corrections into minimum security incarceration and escaped within six months of beginning his 40-year sentence. Gallardo had been driving very drunk in the wrong direction on Interstate 80, with blood alcohol at three times the legal limit. He crashed head-on into the car driven by Gary Selby and carrying three passengers. Gary was killed immediately. His friends survived but were badly injured.

Knowledge that the killer is free somewhere has left the Selby family's wounds open. Gary's aunt, Holly Bayol, keeps up a remembrance website for her nephew, as she holds on to the belief that Gallardo will be caught and imprisoned, as justice requires. (Please imprint the face of Samuel Avalos Gallardo on your memory and notify the police if you see him.)

Americans have developed to the point where they no longer condone drunk driving. But to no avail. Illegal aliens with no such compunctions are dangerously careening across our highways every day. It's worse than unfair to the victims of these lowlifes who are so drunk they can't find the right side of the road.

Driving responsibly with your seatbelt fastened in your fuel-efficient car won't help when a dead-drunk driver has his clunker barreling straight for you at highway speed.

Our immigration disaster is turning America into two (or more) nations, under anarchy. American highway deaths because of immigrant drunk driving are but one symptom. 

Brenda Walker [email her] lives in Northern California and publishes LimitsToGrowth and ImmigrationsHumanCost.