Border town looks to curb drunken driving
San Luis Rio Colorado, Son., is looking at doubling traffic fines to counter what officials say is the idea among many motorists that it's OK to drink and drive south of the border.
And, say officials of the Mexican border city across from San Luis, Ariz., those who need to change their attitude include drivers visiting from the Yuma area.
Some drivers from north of the border, "above all youth, have the perception that in San Luis, the laws are lax, that there will be flexibility, and that they don't have to worry because the fine are very low," said Manuel Angulo, spokesman for Mayor Leonardo Guillen.
Last week, Guillen presented a proposal to a city commission to double the fine for a first-time drunken driving offense, raising the amount to 9,715 pesos, or about $757.
The proposal comes on the heels of four traffic fatalities in the last three months in San Luis Rio Colorado. Police said two of the victims were killed in alcohol-related crashes, the latest of which occurred Aug. 10 when an 8-year-old girl died in an accident caused by a driver who had the presence of alcohol and three types of drugs in his system.
Last week, Guillen told news media in San Luis Rio Colorado that this year's rate of fatality accidents – whether related to alcohol or not – appear to be running ahead of those of previous years.
From January through last month, 20 people had died in accidents in and around the Mexican border city, compared with 31 for all of 2011 and 32 for 2012. And the trend of fatalities is on the upswing despite city police being under orders to enforce a policy of zero tolerance of drunken driving, speeding and any other traffic infractions, Angulo noted.
The commission, made up members of the city council, will study the mayor's proposal and then forward it along with its own recommendation within two months to the full council for a vote.
"Being optimistic, we think that approval can be given to it soon, in the next few weeks," Angulo said.
In his proposal, Guillen is seeking to raise the fine for a drunken-driving to the maximum amount set by state law, but Angulo said the mayor's ultimate goal is to seek legislation to be able to raise the limit over 18,000 pesos, or more than $1,400.