Drunk driving: don't go there

Published 2:06 pm Thursday, December 11, 2003

By Staff
Our view
During the holidays, many people go to get-togethers, eat out, or visit friends and family.
Some of those occasions may include the consumption of alcohol. That choice is solely that of the individual, but all that changes when the individual gets behind the wheel of an automobile. Then it becomes everyone's business, because the actions of the individual affect all of us. This is true whether the impaired driver has accident, gets a ticket, or makes it home – this time – without incident.
The reason it affects all of us is that it makes the roadways more dangerous, costs extra hours in law enforcement time, when the officers could be doing something else, and it impacts the insurance rates across the state.
There is also the added burden on the prisons, jails and court systems, which are already at critical mass.
What can one expect if he or she is arrested and charged with driving under the influence?
A first offense DUI conviction for a driver less than 21 years of age will result in the license of the driver being suspended for at least 30 days.
For drivers who are more than 21 years of age who receive a first offense conviction of DUI, there is the matter of up to 365 days in jail, attendance in a substance abuse program, a fine of $600-$2,100 and suspension of license for 90 days.
It goes up from there. Second offense will get the driver a minimum of five days jail time or 30 hours community service, up to a year in jail, driving license suspended for a year and a fine of up to $5,100.
If someone has not learned the lesson by the third offense, then they face a minimum of 60 days in jail, up to a year in jail, up to $10,000 fine, alcohol treatment required, and kissing the drivers license goodbye for three years.
If there are children less than 14 in the vehicle at the time of arrest on the DUI charge, the minimum punishments are doubled.
Is it worth going to jail for to look cool in the eyes of your friends? Is it worth spending several thousand dollars on fines and attorneys, to have 'one for the road'?
This is all in a best-case scenario, if someone is simply arrested, charged and convicted of DUI.
Worst case scenario is having just a little too much to drink, and driving, having an accident and injuring or killing yourself or someone else.
No one should have to live everyday knowing their loved one was taken away because someone else abused the privilege of driving. Abuse it and it will go away.
Don't risk it. Ask for a ride. Sleep it off in the backseat with the keys locked in the trunk. Walk back to the house.
When you see someone you know has had too much to drink – and one is usually too much – to drive, insist on taking the keys. Sure, they might be angry, but that is something that can be worked out later.
If you know you are going to be out at a party or other event where you are going to drink, appoint a designated driver well in advance, who doesn't drink at all that night.
It is the only sure way to keep the holidays bright for everyone.

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