I know, you don't feel impaired. Maybe you'll feel like a super hero who can do anything after the booze gets into your bloodstream. Or you'll feel quiet and pensive, but still feel you're okay to drive. Or, maybe you're one of those people who believes they "never get drunk" so they just go on drinking, and never really appear drunk, at least so they think.
But somewhere, after you get behind the wheel of that metallic monster that turns into an unguided missile, all sensibility and reason loses contact in your brain. The neurons fire wrong and your logic fails. You think all is wonderful as you swerve down the road, cursing other drivers for coming too close, or driving too slow. Maybe you even notice the fools are all heading the wrong direction on the freeway...just before impact! The impact that changes everything forever, for you, for the other party, for your family. Maybe ends life as you knew it, and maybe life just ends...for you or someone else.
Tell me...how would you feel if you were drunk driving, and your wife and child were in the car with you, and you had a really bad accident? In your haste, you failed to properly restrain your child in their safety seat, and they were ejected and were killed. Your wife is horribly disfigured, and you, the drunk, come out with minor injuries. How would you live with that? It happens, all too often, folks, all too often. My spouse sees it in the Emergency Room, and I saw it on the streets before the people made it to the ER...or the morgue!
Then what about the person you kill or maim in the accident who was simply there, doing nothing wrong? The innocent victim you deprived of their life, or if they live, a decent life, all because you didn't know when to stop drinking, or when to have a designated driver.
From my August 2008 Blog: Alcohol and drug policies are the law of the land. But many people don’t seem to understand the absolute necessity of a driver behind the wheel, who is not impaired by any substance. When you’re traveling at 70 to 90 feet per second down the highway, you simply cannot allow any substance to cloud your thinking, nor your reaction time. But, in all too many cases, we find alcohol and/or drugs related to the accident. Alcohol can act as both a stimulant and a depressant. It stimulates the psyche into doing things that might not otherwise be considered, and it depresses common sense, that usually overrules foolish and dangerous acts. And, that is frequently where the problem starts. Many people believe they can use alcohol or drugs and drive safely. That’s because they have lost much of their cognitive sense when they are impaired, and believe they can do nothing wrong. Some even believe they are invincible. Believe me, I have been at enough wrecks in my career to assure you there is no such thing as an invincible driver. Serious injury, and often death, does occur in virtually every alcohol or drug related accident. And, unfortunately, it often happens to the innocent victims of an impaired driver. Some people believe coffee can ward off the effects of alcohol. Not so. Drinking lots of coffee after you drink, or take drugs, creates a wide awake impaired person. Just as dangerous, but usually more determined than ever, that he or she is okay to drive.What are the consequences for drinking and driving? Well, that depends upon how much you have had to drink, state laws where you are caught, and how much damage or injury you cause. Recent studies have found it can cost up to $10,000 for a first offense conviction of driving while impaired or drunk driving. Much of that money goes to an attorney to keep you out of jail, if they can. You’ll lose your license, perhaps for good! And wait until you get your insurance bill, if you can even get insurance. Nobody wants a drunk or drugged driver on their policy. NOBODY!. Then, let’s look at your livelihood. Even if you get your license reinstated, if you drive for a living or have to drive a company vehicle at any time, NOBODY wants a drunk driver on their payroll. How can you expect a company to trust you with a $75,000 truck and trailer, and a $100,000 load, when you drink or take drugs? You can’t, and they won’t! Face it, you can really ruin your life by drinking, or taking drugs, and driving. Add to the economic impact the injury and misery an accident causes, and it’s a pretty dismal picture.
About 40 years ago, I knew a man who used to drink and drive. Although it’s not his real name, in deference to his family, I’ll call him Bill. He was in his early twenties, the prime of life. He had a new job, a new car and a good family life. One night, Bill stopped off for “just a few” drinks, then proceeded to get in his car and drive on the freeway. He hit a bridge abutment at an estimated speed of 75 miles per hour. Bill became an instant statistic. He spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair, having his family feed him through a tube, wiping the drool from his chin, and changing his diapers. He remained that way, unable to communicate with the outside world, a prisoner of his deteriorating body, until he died 25 years later. Imagine that, if you can. The anguish of a family over having their husband, and father, vegetate in front of them for 25 years. If that’s not enough, think about Bill’s mind, if it was even the least bit functional. The anguish of living every second, every minute and every hour trapped in that horrible situation, unable to get out. Wanting to tell his family how sorry he was, and how he wanted to go back and live that day over again. No, he wouldn't take a drink, ever again. And, this was a single car accident. Bill didn’t injure an innocent family in another car. Bill just destroyed his life, and with it, devastated the lives of his family, forever. In my career, I’ve seen too many Bills. I’ve helped extricate and resuscitate people, after alcohol or drug impaired drivers have struck them. It’s not a pretty sight. It’s heart breaking to notify a family their loved one has been killed, or maimed, in an accident. It’s even harder to tell them their loved one, or the other driver, was impaired. Law enforcement and insurance carriers will continue to make, and support, every effort, to get the drunk, or drug impaired driver, off the street. But, as a human being, a father and a grandfather, I ask each and every driver to think of the consequences of taking that drink, or those drugs, and getting behind the wheel. It’s a chance we both cannot afford for you to take.
Botton line is if you drink..don't drive. If you drive..don't drink. Don't be fooled into thinking the chart you get with your registration or driver's license will keep you sober if you only drink according to body weight. Driving while impaired can come under the .08 limit for many due to medications, body mass vs. body weight, metabolism, food consumed, etc. Don't take a chance. Plus, stainless steel may be in for fashion, but those made by Peerless and Smith & Wesson really aren't comfortable when worn behind the back!
Please Drive Safe, Sober and Sensibly. Thank you and be safe out there!
Happy New Year 2009!