Huntington Beach Deadly DUI, Hit-and-run Pedestrian Accidents

Surf City: A Perfect Storm for Deadly DUI, Hit-and-run Crashes

 Huntington Beach Deadly Hit-and-run Pedestrian AccidentsHUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (August 12, 2021) —  It’s been an especially, cruel summer for pedestrians and bicyclists in the city of Huntington Beach.

On the bright side, Huntington Beach is a great place to bike, walk or enjoy the beach. However, there is a dark side to this popular coastal community. Far too often the day will end in tragedy as vulnerable pedestrians find themselves crossing paths with dangerous drunk drivers as they come and go from the beach and downtown drinking establishments.

This summer has been especially troublesome for Surf City. There were two deadly hit-and-run pedestrian accidents within days of each other in July. Also, crashes involving drunk drivers here too often involve pedestrians or bicyclists. A suspected drunk driver struck and killed a man on August 12th at Springdale Street near Croupier Drive.

Summer 2021 Hit-and-run Pedestrian Accidents

There have been many hit-and-run collisions this summer in Huntington Beach. Most recently, a hit-and-run driver struck and killed a fourth grade teacher and critically injured her husband on Pacific Coast Highway. DeAnna Stuve, 48, and Frederick “Rick” Stuve, 50, of Hemet, were crossing Pacific Coast Highway at Newland Street with their children about 8 p.m. on Sunday, July 25th. A driver allegedly ran a red light and struck them. The mother reportedly pushed her two daughters out of harm’s way, but was unable to save herself. The suspect never went to help the victims and instead, exited her vehicle and got into another vehicle to flee the scene.

Three days later, a female pedestrian was struck and killed early Wednesday morning on Edinger Avenue at Springdale Street about 3:45 a.m. on July 28th. Once again, the driver failed to stop and help the victim and sped away to avoid the consequences.

Sadly, it’s a tragedy that keeps repeating itself in this beach town of more than 200,000 residents that draws millions to its sandy shores. Hit-and-run drivers are a problem here. Often they don’t stop because there is also a DUI involved. Indeed, the penalties for DUI are typically much greater than those they will face for a hit-and-run crash. It’s safe to bet that many prefer to sober up before police catch them.

“It’s inexcusable why anyone who goes out drinking would get behind the wheel and drive with so many rideshare services available,” said Attorney James Johnson, a local personal injury attorney and longtime supporter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

Huntington Beach Traffic Accident Statistics

 Huntington Beach Deadly Hit-and-run Pedestrian Accidents

A woman leaves crosses at a memorial to three Las Vegas teenagers killed on PCH and Magnolia Street by a drunk driver Bani Duarte, 29, of San Clemente. The teens were on vacation in the city for spring break.

Overall, the city experienced a total of 1,335 injury and or fatal collisions in 2018. Some 91 of those collisions were hit-and-run crashes involving injuries or death, according to the most-recent records compiled by the Office of Traffic Safety. Also, there were 85 pedestrians and 150 bicyclists injured or killed in those collisions, OTS records show.

Records also show that alcohol contributes to many types of collisions in the city. There were 201 injury and fatal alcohol-related collisions reported in the city in 2018. One pedestrian hit by a suspected DUI driver died in May at PCH and 1st Street. Another pedestrian died on July 5th at Beach Boulevard and Garfield Avenue.  One man died and his wife was injured in a tandem bike accident in early August.

It’s Surf City, Not Sober City

Indeed, the city of Huntington Beach also ranks number one among 59 California cities of similar size for alcohol-related collisions and it ranks second for crashes involving bicyclists.

These staggering statistics take place in a city that boasts to be one of the best vacation spots in the United States. Indeed, visitors love the sandy beaches, pristine coastline, boardwalk, pier and shopping are top attractions.  However, these features also make the city subject to an influx of pedestrians, bicyclists and unfortunately, drunk drivers.

It can happen anywhere in the city as drivers leave the beach and downtown to head home. On August 11th, a 26-year-old man died on Springdale Street near Croupier Drive after a suspected drunk driver hit him about 12:20 a.m.

News about these deadly collisions is something most people don’t want to think about. However, it’s notable that Surf City is centered around a downtown with more than its share of bars and restaurants that serve alcohol. Also, a string of hotels and the outdoor Pacific City shopping center attract crowds out on the town. Every year some 11 million people visit the city of Huntington Beach, according to the City of Huntington Beach.

Certainly, the city has not stopped issuing alcoholic beverage licenses. It is a fact that alcohol is a major contributing factor to collisions in Huntington Beach and it’s no wonder there are 328 Active On-Sale Retail Licenses, according to the Alcoholic Beverage Control. These are all types of establishments that serve alcohol including hotels, restaurants, bars, etc.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)For many years, Mothers Against Drunk Driving held its annual Walk Like MADD next to the boardwalk in Huntington Beach. A few years ago, the event made a decision to move the fundraiser to Long Beach because it was too expensive to have it in Surf City. However, what better place to bring awareness to the issue of drunk driving than in a city that ranks first for DUI collisions among 59 cities with similar populations in California. The previous year it ranked fourth.

“Most people are aware it’s not safe to drink and drive, but unfortunately that hasn’t helped prevent such tragedies,” said Johnson.

Johnson represented the family of a homeless woman struck and killed by a suspected drunk driver on Pacific Coast Highway in February 2017.  The driver struck the woman as she was pushing a cart across the street at night.

DUI Drivers Face Jail Time, Fines, Driver’s License Suspension

For some drivers, the punishment for DUI is still not enough of a deterrent. A first misdemeanor DUI offense in California is punished by 3 to 5 years probation. However, the penalties increase for each subsequent arrest. If someone dies in a crash after the first conviction, the drunk driver may also face murder charges and 15-years-to-life in prison.

The first-time DUI driver is required to serve 96 hours to six months in county jail. They also have to pay $390.00 to $1000.00 in fines, plus penalty assessments. They will also attend DUI school and their license will be revoked for a 6-month period. Also, the higher your blood-alcohol content, the longer you lose your license. In some cases, a driver is required to install an ignition interlock device. This applies only if there are no injuries or deaths.  The fines, jail time and driver’s license suspensions increase with each offense.

Also, the DUI conviction remains on your driving record for 10 years from the date of arrest.

Felony, Misdemeanor Hit-and-run California Vehicle Codes 20001, 20002

The consequences of leaving the scene of the collision involving injuries or death are not as harsh as those for drunk driving. For example, police arrested the brazen driver who allegedly killed Deanna Stuve the next day. Yet within they released her on just $100,000 bail. Under California Vehicle Codes, a hit and run driver’s crime is either as a misdemeanor or felony. Typically, hit-and-run crimes involving only property damage are considered a misdemeanor (Vehicle Code 20002). On the other hand, a felony hit and run is one that causes any injury or death (VC 20001).

Drivers who flee the scene of a collision involving serious or permanent injury, or death, will face the following legal penalties:

  • 2, 3, or 4 years in a California state prison
  • A $1,000 to $10,000 fine
  • Victim restitution
  • Two points on your driving record (California DMV)

Johnson Attorneys Group is a proud, longtime supporter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). We do not represent any of the parties mentioned above. We hope that our news articles help provide valuable information. If you would like to contribute any information or have a legal question, please contact us at your convenience.


James Johnson

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