When a person reaches the state of being totally inebriated he or she becomes invincible and extremely difficult to deal with on a rational plane. A few years ago I was performing at a wedding reception in southwest Ohio where a very intoxicated gentleman was arguing with his wife that he was fine to drive the two short miles to their hotel. They were from upstate New York and not familiar with the area. I intervened suggesting the gentleman allow his wife to handle the chore. I informed both that the police in this town were extremely tough on drivers that drink, and wait for people leaving banquet halls and bars. I was dismissed immediately with the statement “Mind your own business pal.” I said, “You’re right,” and walked away.
With his wife in tears he slipped behind the wheel and she into the back seat. It would be safer back there I’m sure she thought. Mr. Big Shot’s errant departure from the parking lot was noticed immediately by a cruiser approaching from the south. In the twinkling of an eye Mr. Big Shot was caught. I was packing out my equipment at the time which normally takes a while so I was able to observe his sobriety test, that he failed badly, and his being handcuffed and tucked in to the back of the cruiser. His wife, sober, was allowed to take their vehicle to the hotel.
I should have been more forceful and kicked myself for not arguing with Mr. Big Shot to not drive. Would I have won my case? Very doubtful I’ve been told by many. The keys need to be taken away at the beginning of the evening if a subject says he or she will be drinking. A very costly lesson but no loss of life or property damage occurred that night.
When visiting family in NW Ohio a couple of weeks later my eyes caught a headline in the Toledo Blade. A couple in their 60’s were stopped to make a left turn off a busy two lane 55 MPH highway when they were rear ended by a drunk driver. Three EM-T’s arrived to attend to the couple and take them to the nearest ER. Their condition was serious. A few miles down the road an 18 wheeler that did not hear the rescue vehicle’s siren was proceeding through a green light when it hit the rescue vehicle broadside. All were killed instantly. Five people dead on a Friday afternoon because of one drunk driver.
The drunk driver’s injuries were minor and he can’t be charged with any of the deaths since they would be the responsibility of the rescue vehicle and semi driver. The drunk driver will be charged with a DUI, pay over $5,000 in fines, fees, extra insurance premiums, etc. and lose his license for six months. And then sadly he’ll be back on the road again. Five dead because of a drunk driver. An every day occurrence here in the U.S.
Thirty percent of all Americans will be involved in an alcohol related crash during their lifetime.In the year 2004 there were 1286 traffic fatalities in the state of Ohio 38% of those or 492 involved alcohol. Nationally 43,443 people died in traffic accidents in 2005 of which 17,525 were alcohol related. Most alcohol related accidents occur on summer weekends. If you’re going to drink plan ahead make sure you have a designated driver or enough money for cab fare or to call home and have someone pick you up. The most important thing you have to do is give your keys to someone else before you start.
One other thought on alcohol. Forty percent of all crimes are committed by people under the influence of alcohol. Nothing good will ever come from consuming alcohol. Nothing. My parents where alcoholics, my maternal grand parents and maternal great grand parents all major drinkers. I have two brothers that are severe alcoholics one in Florida and the other in Costa Rica. My wife’s family is full of alcoholics. Alcohol abuse destroys families, relationships and life in general. If you must drink give your keys to someone before you start.