Submitted by Lindsey Miller
In 2013, 10,076 people were killed by drunk driving. 28 people a day slaughtered, one person every 53 seconds (drunk driving statistics, intoxalox). Drunk driving can be defined as the crime of driving a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol. In the state in which I live in, Iowa, if the blood alcohol concentration is tested to be at least .08% or for those under 21 the level .02%, an arrest will be warranted for DWI (driving while intoxicated), or DUI (driving under the influence). Because drunk driving is such a dangerous and common circumstance, there needs to be an effort to stop it.
Due to a recent push in advertisements about drunk driving, it is well known that driving while impaired is dangerous, selfish, careless, and irresponsible. Drunk driving should not still be a prominent issue in America. The reason for this is simply arrogance. This arrogance comes from the mindset that young people so often have that “bad things only happen to other people”. This perfect bubble of a mindset that so many momentarily live in is one that is commonly popped. This type of thinking is especially prevalent in underage teenage drivers. Approximately 2,000 underage drinkers die every year behind the wheel and alcohol is a factor in a third of all teenage auto fatalities (Drivinglaws.org).
Even if a drunk driver hasn’t yet caused a fatal crash, the penalties for a DUI are not favorable. For a year or more, an underaged driver will have their driver’s license suspended. Judges also can order to impound the driver’s car. In addition, the driver can be fined anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars depending on the state laws. On top of that, the young driver will most likely have to attend drug/alcohol and driver’s education classes as well as to complete a month or more of community service.
Jail time is also a very real possibility. For a first offense, jail time may range from 24 hours to a year. If the consequences that would occur after getting caught aren’t enough already, how about the chance of tearing someone’s life from them, their family, and their friends.
The outcome of drunk driving has affected my family very personally.
When I was in 6th grade, my cousin was hit by a drunk driver at 8:17 p.m. as he was walking to his car. He passed away in the ambulance on the way to the hospital due to extreme blood loss. When a loved one is killed, it doesn’t only mean that someone dies, but a family dies. The loss of my cousin tore my aunt and uncle apart. The death of their son was too much to handle. It completely ruined their lives, and it easily could have been avoided.
The solution to drunk driving is so simple, yet some still choose to ignore it. As a driver, it is a clear responsibility to make the right decision and drive sober.
If being sober is not an option at the moment, then there are so many more. One could call a friend to come pick them up or even a taxi. There are many businesses and people out there that would be more than happy to take you home safely. Services like calling a taxi or Uber, which is an online app that finds normal people around you who are going your way that will pick you up and take you to your destination for an affordable cost. These options are out there because of the millions of heartbroken families, like mine, who knows what it is like to lose a loved one and want to save others from the pain and suffering of loss.
Because drunk driving is such a dangerous and common circumstance, there needs to be an effort to stop it. Before someone even thinks about drinking and driving, they need to think of all of the awful outcomes that can and most likely will happen, and then think again. Think of children, friends, parents, so many people that will hurt because of a stupid decision. Think of pets too; imagine one day someone leaving the house and their dog never knowing why they did not come home. The driver should not only think of their own safety but also someone else’s and they should put down that drink. Learn from my family and think of us before you sit behind that wheel intoxicated. America can stop thousands of deaths a year by making one choice. With one choice, you can change someone’s life for better or worse. It is up to you to decide.
Submitted by Lindsey Miller