My Personal Thoughts About Drunk Driving

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Driving while under the influence of alcohol is a trend that does not seem to be going away anytime soon and that is scary, considering that alcohol related accidents make up 39% of the vehicle related deaths in this country. I have seen so many people get behind the wheel of a car without so much as a second thought to what they were doing or whom they may potentially be hurting.

I grew up in Pennsylvania, in one of those small towns that you hear about all the time on the news in relation to drunk driving and car accidents that result from it. The general consensus in those types of towns is that there is nothing to do; people are just bored so they hit the local bars and then because they do not live that far away, they think that driving home drunk is not a big deal. I have been on scene many times to be a witness to such stupidity and I even have to admit that while I have never drove intoxicated, I have been in the car with people who were drunk at the wheel. It is terrifying being in a car that is moving at speeds way over the intended limit, weaving over the yellow lines meant to keep you in your lane while the driver is laughing and talking to the passengers, barely paying attention to the road. I put myself in a situation that was just as bad as drunk driving, I was there as an enabler to the drivers themselves. I could have tried to get their car keys or I could have at l ast gotten a ride home with a sober person but I did not, I put myself in danger while letting someone else put everyone on the road and in the car in danger at the same time.

In situations like those, I kept my mouth shut because in my mind I was trying to keep the peace between myself and people that I consider to be friends. Thinking back on it all now, keeping quiet was the worst possible thing to do. How would I have felt had the driver of the car crashed and someone got hurt or even killed and I had survived, knowing that I could have prevented it? I would not have been able to forgive myself and I am just grateful that my own stupidity has not ever resulted in that awful ending. I got lucky but that does not mean that everyone will, in fact it is proven by statistics that not everyone is going to have a happy ending. We all are not guaranteed the same amount of mistakes in life, some people can get away with something for years while another person can make a mistake only once and it can ruin their lives and so many other lives around them.

I know a man that was one of the unlucky ones, he got drunk when he was in his early 20’s and decided he was sober enough to drive. He wasn’t. He hit another car and killed the driver. Now he has to live with not only the legal repercussions such as never having his license back but he also has to deal with the guilt and trust me, there is plenty of guilt that he holds within himself. He has since tried to do good things in the community, tried to pay a penance for his wrong but from his own mouth, nothing will ever take away the pain that he feels knowing that he took someone’s life. There is not a good deed on this earth that will ever erase what happened; he will always be the guy that killed someone because he didn’t think about the consequences to his actions. That is a heavy burden to carry for the rest of your life.

When I lived in Florida, I became active with Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (M.A.D.D.) and we were heavily involved in setting up the D.U.I. checkpoints in our county. The things that I saw on the nights the checkpoints took place, gave me a real fear about not only the consequences of driving drunk myself but of the other intoxicated people out on the road. I saw men and women, of all ages and walks of life falling over during their sobriety tests, some becoming vulgar and irrational at having been caught, others crying at the thought of going to jail because they were scared. I asked myself how they ever thought they could drive a vehicle when they could not even stand without falling and the thought terrified me. For the others, the angry and the scared, I tried to imagine how their anger and fear at being caught would compare if they had actually hurt or killed someone due to their bad judgment choice that night? How would they handle that kind of burden? I was thankful that they didn’t have to find out that night and I prayed that they would take the experience of being caught and learn from it, so they would never have to find out the harder way.

After re-evaluating and looking back on my own bad choices and seeing firsthand the repercussions that were laid upon others, I have made the choice to not ever be in that situation again. I don’t want to ever be responsible for ruining or taking another person’s life, especially over something that can easily be avoided. It’s easier to just not drive while intoxicated.

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