Dwight “Spike” Helmick began his career with the California Highway Patrol (CHP) in 1969. He was valedictorian of his CHP class, was promoted to sergeant in 1974, and was assigned to Sacramento in 1975. He was appointed commissioner by Governor Pete Wilson in 1995. He was only the fifth officer in the history of the CHP to rise all the way through the ranks to the top position in the state. Commissioner Helmick retired in 2004 after leading the agency for nine years under three governors, the longest tenure of any commissioner in 50 years.
Commissioner Helmick helped the CHP to achieve great things during his tenure. Under his leadership, the CHP achieved the lowest "Mileage Death Rate" on California roadways in recorded history, and California became the first state in the nation to achieve a 90 percent seat belt compliance rate. This resulted in the only A+ rating by the National Safety Council.
Helmick was and remains actively involved in the safety issues important to the public and the motor vehicle community. He led a Designated Driver program that promotes the use of non-drinking drivers. He managed the programs "Sober Graduation" and "Every Fifteen Minutes" that target high school-age drivers to increase awareness of alcohol-related deaths. He managed the California Motorcyclist Safety Program and has trained more than 200,000 cyclists. This program reduced the number of deaths and injuries to motorcycle riders by over 80 percent. He formed a "Corridor Safety Program" that targets high-risk highways in California and reduces fatalities and injuries. He coordinated public safety efforts to reduce crime and violence and has led the way in agency partnerships and cooperation by supporting a host of smaller local agencies. He helped unite the Highway Patrol with Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, and the Intelligent Transportation Society to shape the commercial enforcement standards for the United States, Mexico and Canada. He also assisted in implementing the first commercial vehicle electronic clearance program. Helmick is recognized internationally as a leader in reducing pedestrian fatalities.
In 2013, Helmick extended his impressive track record of working to save lives by joining the board of Impact Teen Drivers.