Everyone has been there at one time or another; caught up in the moment, the excitement, and the pleasure. It is so easy to lose track when you’re with your friends, enjoying yourselves. No one is asking you to stop having fun. We are asking you to be smart, to be strategic about where you are and what you are doing when you are having fun.
Why are we asking you to rethink before you get behind the wheel? Because the odds are against you; the numbers simply are not in your favor. Your good times are more likely to come to a screeching halt in one way or another, especially when you are behind the wheel of a car. Passengers are not immune from drunk driving either. Read on and especially pay attention to the personal stories and you will see exactly why. We are simply asking you to get in the driver’s seat of your life and control when, where and how you will have fun. Learn a little more so you can put the odds in your favor and come out the winner that you know you are meant to be.
When you are under the influence of alcohol or marijuana your body slows down. You may think you are just fine, but guess what? Your judgement is also impaired! Your concentration and focus are diminished, and your vision is also affected.
The more of either substance you have in your body, the more your reaction time slows down, your vision becomes increasingly diminished and it is difficult to judge distance or track moving objects. It is physically extra difficult to put your foot on the brake when you see a darting or fast approaching object, because your hand-eye coordination and muscle control are reduced. It takes longer for your brain to send a signal to your foot, and it is harder to steer the wheel.
Even if you are sober, there are people on the road who are not, and many of them are young males. The statistics are not prejudiced; numbers don’t lie, they just add up. According to the United States Department of Transportation an average of 28 - 30 people die in alcohol impaired driving related crashes every day!
Typically, one out of every three car crashes have an alcohol impaired driver involved. The majority of alcohol related accidents are caused by binge-drinkers or those only drinking at weekend parties and occasional special events. Four out of five drinking drivers are men. Approximately one-third of all drinking drivers are men under the age of 34.
Millie has an excellent driving record and is just an ordinary citizen with a full time job, except it is not the job she wanted. She could not get a security clearance for the job she really wanted, because she cohabitated with known criminals, her mother and sister!
Millie’s mother and sister were just going out dancing with friends, and maybe they just had a little too much to drink. On two separate occasions, both of them were pulled over on their way home from a fun-filled night. But their resulting DWIs caused plenty of grief and expense, not just for them, but for also for their close family members.
You may think that just smoking cigarettes while driving is not of any real concern. Think again! Check out what happened to David and Sarah.
David didn’t know that he was in any danger. He had just finished truck driving school a year ago, had a job he liked and was in the middle of a good run. A few caffeine pills, a couple of cups of coffee and a half a pack of cigarettes later, young David had a fatal heart attack. Since he was behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler on a busy highway in Arizona, he took a bunch of other folks with him when he died that day.
Sarah was driving her first car home from school when she dropped a lit cigarette in her lap. Since she came from a family of smokers, she knew she really didn’t want her new car looking like her mother’s car, with cigarette burns all over the seat. She had only looked down for what seemed like a couple of seconds, but when she looked up again that new car was wrapping itself around a utility pole, and there was nothing she could do about it!
Sarah survived, but her car didn’t. The family car insurance went up so high they could not afford for Sarah to drive her own car again. She was back to bumming rides from friends and occasionally borrowing her mother’s old car, the stinky one with all the burn holes in the seat.
Justin and Becky were clean-cut, kind of nerdy, super-nice high school students. They were both active in student body government and all the teachers liked them. It was not a surprise when Justin asked Becky to the Senior Prom.It was a surprise to hear that they were in a serious accident, caused by drunk driving. Justin lost his life that night. Becky spent months in the hospital, and many more months going to physical therapy. She had to have several reconstructive surgeries, half of which were on her face.
Turns out that Justin and Becky were not drinking that night, but the guy (graduated from the same school the year before) driving the car that T-boned Justin’s car was drinking - too much. He was not injured during the accident because his body was completely relaxed from him being so intoxicated. But, he eventually killed himself, because the wreck was the beginning of a downward spiral for his life. Many thought it was the guilt over what happened to Justin and Becky that put him over the edge.
Collin and Jeremy were super-excited when pot became legal in Colorado. Since they lived about an hour drive just southeast of the Colorado state line, they got into the practice of making frequent road trips to Colorado to enjoy their drug of choice without any fear of getting arrested. What Collin and Jeremy failed to consider is that while cannabis is legal in Colorado, driving under the influence of cannabis is not. Jeremy was arrested, lost his driving privileges, and had to attend DUI School before he could get his driving license restored.
The arrest became a part of both Jeremy’s permanent record, which caused him to get rejections to his college applications. Collin didn’t get off that easy either. When Jeremy was arrested, the police impounded his car, and Collin was stuck in Colorado. He had to call his parents to come and get him. Imagine how that ride back home went.
Lisa and her fiancé decided to have something a bit different. Rather than have the traditional bachelor or bachelorette parties, they decided to celebrate by having a co-ed party with all their friends.
They rented a club house with an extra-large pool on a hot summer night, and everyone had a blast until the maid of honor (playing on a motorized pool float) ran Lisa into the pool wall. It was a freak accident, which paralyzed Lisa from the neck down.
Lisa still became a bride, but the timing of her wedding had to adjusted, and she came down the aisle in a wheelchair.
Joe’s friends enjoyed teasing him, calling him G. I. Joe. It was a natural nickname, since he was in the ROTC and planned to join the Army right after graduating from high school. But, one night during a police checkpoint, Joe tested positive for marijuana. He was charged with a DUI and possession of an illegal substance. His plans went up in smoke, because the Army would not give him an entry waiver for bad conduct.
DUI and DWI laws include the operation of cars, trucks, bicycles, golf carts, snowmobiles, boats and jet skis. Yes! You can get arrested for riding your bicycle while you are high! Had a bit too much to drink? Don’t get on the snowmobile or the jet ski!
Just put a little bit more thought and planning into your partying! Rather than drinking or smoking while you are engaged in sporting activities, wait just a bit, and celebrate your achievements of the day. Go fishing, or jet skiing, and then relax and have drinks or toke some afterwards! Rest and enjoy yourself after a rigorous day of playing around, or recapping the highlights of the day with friends over a couple of drinks. If no one is driving, you won’t have to worry about how much you wind up drinking.
If you still need to have someone drive, pick a responsible soul to be your designated driver (DD). As much as possible take turns having someone act as your DD with trustworthy friends that won’t cave in and start drinking or smoking while they are “on duty.” Have some spare cash, just in case you do need cab fare or have to use a ride service. Plan ahead, be smart and have even more fun!
Most of the smart, successful people we know have done their fair share of partying. Those that don’t have arrest records and/or epic fails on accomplishing their life goals will tell you they took turns as a DD with their friends.
Turns out that being a DD doesn’t have to be a completely boring chore. When you are straight, it is all the more entertaining to see your friends drunk or high! And, you never know when you might catch that golden Instagram moment!
As a DD, you can watch and enjoy all the antics of your friends while they are under the influence. Keep good on your promise to get them safely transported to your party destination, and then back home again. The best part of being a DD is all the stories you will be able to tell your friends about their escapades when you were their chaperone, because they won’t remember the details. You can embellish a little; they probably won’t know the difference!
If you look at any of the websites providing information on driving under the influence of alcohol, you will no doubt run across BAC, which is an acronym for blood alcohol concentration. In other words, BAC is the percentage of alcohol in your blood. In the United states .08% or higher is considered legally impaired and punishable by law. For most people, it only takes about 4 beers to reach .08% BAC. And, it is still possible to get arrested for operating a vehicle with any BAC above 0%.
With the legalization of marijuana in some states, law enforcement agencies and health officials are taking more initiative to keep impaired drivers off the roads. They are also working to make sure they have quick and accurate ways of measuring impairment caused by substances other than alcohol out in the field. Currently, some states have adopted a method using the saliva drug swab test, and many patrol cars have units which can quickly process and produce results within 15 minutes.
Although there is a lot of controversy over the accuracy of roadside testing for drugs, and some people have been able to reduce their charges by contesting BAC test results, do you really want to be in the situation where you have to hire an attorney to contest the charges?
Although no one will actually admit to this upfront, people will drop you like a dime when you are in deep trouble. It happens all the time. The big man on campus and the most popular kids in school have lots of friends when the party is on, and the keg is full. But, once someone gets in serious trouble, like accidentally killing someone on the road, you will notice they don’t have that many friends anymore. Behind his back, people will call him a loser, or a stupid loser.
Again, the way to make sure that you are not busted for DWI is be far ahead of the game. Go grocery shopping and do whatever traveling you have to do before you start drinking or getting high. Have plenty of party activities, movies on your watch list, and plenty of the things that you like to do within easy reach. Make sure you have enough stash and plenty of food and drink, including non-alcoholic beverages for your party. If you still need to go anywhere, walk, or call a sober friend, a cab or rideshare service!
Don’t start drinking on an empty stomach. Many people have a piece of buttered toast before they start drinking. Although this is not a proven technique, it does not hurt to have the buffer in your stomach. Pace yourself. Whenever you are drinking at a party or engaged in any kind of social drinking, alternate between drinking alcoholic drinks and non-alcoholic drinks. It will slow down or possibly prevent your intoxication. If you find that you are intoxicated, eat something, drink a non-alcoholic drink, and call someone to help you or give you a ride.
Remember your future depends on the kinds of decisions you make now, so be mindful and keep yourself out of trouble!