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Drunken-Driving Among Hispanics Focus of WRAL Documentary

Posted December 5, 2007

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— The high rate of drunken driving accidents involving legal and illegal Hispanic immigrants is the focus of a WRAL News documentary airing Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Focal Point: "Crossing the Line" also looks at the challenges law enforcement agencies and the court system face in trying to punish undocumented immigrants for driving drunk. It also looks at how Latino advocacy groups are working to reach out to Hispanic immigrants and educate them about the dangers of driving drunk.

According to a recent study from the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, Hispanics involved in car crashes are two-and-a-half times more likely to be drunk than white drivers and three times more likely to be drunk than black drivers.

Hispanics also account for 18 percent of drunken-driving arrests, while making up less than 7 percent of the state’s population. Drunken driving is also the number one killer of young Hispanic men in North Carolina.

"Crossing the Line" also profiles the case of Scott and Tina Gardner, a couple from Mount Holly, N.C., who was hit by an illegal immigrant on their vacation in July 2005. Tina Gardner was left severely brain-damaged, and Scott Gardner was killed.

The driver, Ramiro Gallegos, had a blood alcohol concentration of .22, nearly three times the legal limit.

“My son didn’t have to die," his mother, Emily Moose, said. "The man that drove the truck and took his life had been in front of a judge five times. He had been deported from this country twice.”

More recently, there have been several traffic accidents involving Hispanic immigrants.

On Oct. 25, Elbin Fabiel Ocampo Cruz, 22, was driving westbound on eastbound Interstate 540 between Creedmoor and Six Forks roads in Raleigh when he collided with a woman's car. An illegal immigrant, he faces charges including driving while impaired and reckless driving.

And in March, Luciano Tellez, 31, of Angier, was charged with two counts of misdemeanor death by vehicle, felony hit-and-run and other charges in connection with a fatal hit-and-run involving a tractor-trailer

Two people who were in the car with Tellez told authorities that he had been drinking. He had been convicted in 2005 in Wake County on a prior DWI conviction and was wanted for violating terms of his probation.

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  • imback Dec 5, 2007

    "And by the way "America" is a continent NOT a country."

    WHHHAAATT??
    "America", has always meant the United States. "Americans" has always meant people who live in the United States. Even before there was a United States, they people who lived what would be the United States, called themselves Americans. The *Americas* are the countries of the Western Hemisphere.
    Oh and BTW, there is a difference between illegal and legal immigration. You may want to look that up.

  • Sandollar Dec 5, 2007

    Thanks "mep" I have a little more understanding of the Mexican population drinking and driving. I know for a fact that they do it and it is a problem. Correct information and understanding can be a way to a solution. The per centage is high in NC because NC has become California. Illegals are sucking our resources dry and we are losing jobs to illegals.
    My Grandparents came from other countries and they had to learn English and abide by the laws of the the United States. They came through legally through Ellis Island. The banks did not ask in what language to you want responses.

  • Sandollar Dec 5, 2007

    I don't think I am better than anyone else. I do know that there is a problem with Mexicans and driving drunk. It has been researched. In Mexico most citizens can not afford alcohol. They come to the United States, work and can afford alcohol. They just drink and drive. I wish I knew a fair way to get all drunk drivers off the road.

  • lizard Dec 5, 2007

    leo-nc,,,,they don't have to ride with us. They can go hangout in a convenient store from about 10pm til 2am and see who comes in and what they buy. There is definitely an "over representation" there. It is quite blatant.

  • lizard Dec 5, 2007

    WOW! Bold move by WRAL! Gutsy! I'll be watching.

    (Wonder if they'll discuss the statistic that 13 Americans are killed in traffic crashes w/ illegal aliens every DAY in the US?)

  • k9sandQtrs Dec 5, 2007

    Um..... what about drunken driving state troopers?

  • jrf1957 Dec 5, 2007

    How long are we going to let ILLEGAL immigrants run free in our great state and country? The answer: it's already been much too long. If our government can't figure it out please have them contact me, because it's really not that difficult. Load the illegals in a bus and send them back! Too costly? I don't think so. We'd be saving money,lives and jobs. What statistical data did our government invent so that our congressmen,senators, and representatives could justify keeping their illegals working directly or indirectly so they could pad their pockets more. I'm tire of it! Hire me to do the job our government will not do. I'll personally get them back to Mexico. Instead of letting them work tax free and receiving free health care let the citizens who have had enough get paid to deport them. We'll save America billions. Anyone else interested? Probably several million. Look how much better our economy is already. I've created jobs,saved lives and money.

  • leo-nc Dec 5, 2007

    "Why is it "among hispanics"? The focus should be on illegal aliens hispanics!!!!!! I don't think hispanics-americans drive drunk more often than the rest of us."---> HA!!! Come ride with me for a week, you'll change your tune. They are doing it all the time. I've seen it with my own eyes, over and over and over. Daytime, nighttime and anytime.

    "I have hispanic-american friends just as mad as I am about Martin throwing open the community college doors to illegal aliens."

    So what. What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? This is about drunk driving among an ethnic group, not about opening the doors for illegals. It is what it is.

  • Evil one Dec 5, 2007

    In a sane world where common sense, not political correctness ruled the day, hispanic drivers would be routinely stopped to check for sobriety. It is a reported fact that it is a cultural norm to drive drunk in Mexico. I think we should erect a memorial in NC on which the names of all killed by illegal Hispanic drunk drivers would be inscribed, to remind our lawmakers of the tragedy of their inaction. Doubt this will make it past the PC police.

  • Six String Dec 5, 2007

    Wheelerx5 -- What I said is that drunk driving and illigal immigration have nothing to do with one another. Some drunk drivers are illegal, some are not. The focus of the article is "drunk driving among hispanics". Eveyone wants to turn it into a referendum on illegals. All I see is fear-mongering from a bunch of people.

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