Every week I check out the police beat in my local newspaper. (I am always hopeful that none of my family members will be mentioned in it.) But every week I am somewhat shocked to see at least one or two reports of DUI arrests. Sometimes these individuals are teens or young adults. But more often they are middle-aged drivers who should know better. And I get angry. These people are driving on the streets of my town, endangering the lives of myself, my family and my friends.
Everyone knows drunk driving can lead to disaster. But it wasn’t until 1980 that we began to take the issue seriously, when a grieving mother founded Mothers Against Drunk Drivers after her daughter was killed by a drunk driver. Now known simply as MADD, the organization raised the profile of this terrible scourge, lobbied for higher drinking ages and lower blood alcohol limits, and made people finally take seriously the issue of driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. (Source: MADD website)
I am not going to be a hypocrite and claim that I have never driven after having had a few too many drinks. Until MADD brought the devastating consequences of drinking and driving to national attention, I don’t think I realized that my actions could have fatal consequences. But I personally know too many people whose lives have been upended by a DUI conviction, not to mention one whose life was lost at the hands of a drunk driver.
It is not always easy to know when we have had too much. The euphoria of mind-altering substances can even make us feel a bit invincible. So the safest course is not to drink (or use drugs) at all if we are planning on getting behind the wheel of a car. I am also a little angry at these older adults because we are our children’s role models. If they see us taking risks with our driving, they will think it’s no big deal to have a few beers and drive. My kids make fun of me because I will refuse to drive them anywhere even after half a glass of wine. But let them make fun. I just hope they remember my behavior when they find themselves facing the decision of whether to drink and drive.
The summer has just begun. People take to the roads in much greater numbers during the warm summer months. I urge drivers to put safety ahead of pleasure and just not drink and drive. Virgin margaritas, anyone?