By Ben Paquini
t’s well past midnight as you glance at your phone for the first time in hours. You look up at the faces of your friends who are all smiles, holding up their empty glasses in protest of your unfinished beer.
Bottom’s up and it’s time to close the tab. As you make your way to the parking lot you begin to rationalize, even justify your ability to drive home. If you have to think about it, just don’t do it.
Young Californians are responsible for the most drunk driving related incidents in the U.S. According to the popular non-profit organization, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 21 to 25 year olds commit 23 percent of drunk driving incidences. Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s alcohol-impaired driving factsheet for 2012 presents the same demographic as being responsible for 32 percent of all alcohol-induced fatal crashes. These figures are respective to totals in California, not the entire country.
I have lost one dear friend to irresponsible drunk driving. Most recently, an acquaintance of mine was involved in a drunk driving accident that left two young women, in their early twenties, dead and two others, including my acquaintance, in critical condition. They are still in the hospital.
Statistics serve as deterrents which have, over the years, reduced the amount of drunk driving accidents in California. However, the problem is only quantified when an incident actually occurs, thus people will continue driving drunk until something happens to them.
It’s sort of an unwritten rule, when out for a night of drinking a group of friends will convince themselves and or each other that they are “cool” to drive. This protocol is as good as shooting in the dark, it’s a gamble.
Whenever you get behind the wheel after drinking, you risk at least a DUI. A DUI itself could result in huge fines and possible jail time, not to mention the suspension of a driver’s license. It really is not worth it.
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you very well know you should not drive, take up one of the following plans of action. Or at least, consider them at great lengths. Only you know whether or not you can or should be driving.
The most obvious option is to hand the keys to a designated driver. If there is not one in your group or if you are alone, just hang out a bit longer at the restaurant, bar or house party you might be at. The extra hours won’t seem like anything in retrospect.
Another option is to call someone to pick you up, it is very unsettling how seldom this means is actually used. Embarrassing yourself or getting scolded by parents will only be followed by praise for your responsible decision.
Most people live with the belief that drunk driving will never happen to them, unfortunately this is not strong enough a case to prevent tragedies. Be as proactive as possible when dealing with alcohol and driving. We live in one of the most car-reliant areas in the world and do not have the luxury or accessibility to reliable and helpful public transportation.
Do yourself a favor and take up all alternatives to driving when drunk or even “buzzed”. Remember that not only are you endangering the lives of those you are with, but the lives of others on the road. Have fun and be young, but remember that driving after drinking a bit too much is not worth it, ever.
Jenilee Umali/The Poly Post
Drunk Driving: Just don’t do it
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