With the holidays coming up I wanted to touch on an important topic: drinking and driving. I think it becomes a more common occurrence during the holidays when people are attending more parties and events that involve drinking. And chances are if you have issues with alcohol, you've driven drunk at least once. I will be the first to admit that I drove under the influence many times. Luckily, I never got into an accident or hurt anyone. I also never got a DUI, but I did get pulled over once. It was the one time I drove while blacked out and it scared the crap out of me. It was in Pennsylvania when I was in college and a friend and I went to the bar on a weeknight. The small downtown city bars were a 15 minute drive from campus and no one used taxis there. We had no choice but to take a car. I drove, knowing that I would drink at the bar. My excuse was: if I get too drunk we can take a cab home and I'll leave my car. I don't remember making the decision to drive. I came to out of my blackout in the car after being pulled over by the cops. In downtown Lancaster near where I went to school and where we were that night, there are a lot of one way streets and I didn't know the city too well. While driving under the influence that night I drove the wrong way down a one way street. I remember the cop asking me to get out of the car and performing a field sobriety test. I attempted to walk a straight line and say the ABC's backwards. My memory of this event is somewhat cloudy and I don't know why, but the cop didn't breathalyze me. He 100% knew I was intoxicated so he told me he was going to take my car and that I would need to call someone to pick me up. I had no clue who would be awake on a Tuesday night at 2 a.m. Then I remembered a guy I knew that had been hanging out with us at the bar and just drove himself home about 20 min before closing time. I called him and when the cop asked who it was, it turned out that the two of them had gone to high school together and were friends. I clearly remember the cop saying to me, "You are sooooo lucky you know him!" A very strange coincidence indeed.
The same guy friend drove me to pick up my car from the police station the next morning. I was so hungover and full of anxiety I could have died. I didn't know what the hell was going to happen. I didn't receive a ticket or anything when they took my car. I was convinced I would get to the police station and they would give me a DUI citation or worse. I was asking everyone I knew and even Googling if it was possible to get a DUI citation after the fact, and if you weren't breathalyzed. Talk about paranoia.
When I arrived at the police station I signed a paper for my car and was given the keys. I didn't even receive a traffic violation. I counted my lucky stars for a long time. I vowed to never drink and drive again. That promise was short-lived. Throughout the years I did my fair share of buzzed and drunk driving. I never once volunteered to be the designated driver when going out with friends because I knew I would be too drunk to drive, every time. Moving to Cancun was a relief in that I knew I wouldn't have to drive drunk and there were buses and taxis everywhere.
It's only now that I am sober that I realize how many times I put myself and countless others in danger. And for what? Convenience?
Drinking and driving is never ok. It's never worth it. I am actually embarrassed to tell that story. I'm lucky to be alive. I'm lucky I didn't kill myself or someone else. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, IN 2013, 10,076 PEOPLE DIED IN DRUNK DRIVING CRASHES - ONE EVERY 52 MINUTES - AND 290,000 WERE INJURED IN DRUNK DRIVING CRASHES. That is appalling. Did you know that an average drunk driver has driven drunk 80 times before their first arrest?! 80 TIMES! And every two minutes another person is injured in a drunk driving accident. Every day in America, 28 people die as a result of a drunk driving crash. These are preventable deaths! If people would just make the decision not to drive under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
On top of being life-threatening, drunk driving is expensive. If you are lucky enough to get out of a drunk driving experience alive, but have sustained a DUI conviction, you're looking at $9,101 in costs and that amount could go up to $20,000 in some states. With that much money you could buy 26 Apple Watch Sports or 4,919 cups of size tall Starbucks coffees. MADD says that drunk driving costs each adult in the U.S. about $800 per year. That's insane. We should all be pissed about that.
Like I mentioned in the beginning of this post, the holidays are upon us and drinking and driving will become more prevalent. Please do what you can to keep yourself and your fellow human beings safe. Be a designated driver. Ditch the hangover, regret, and danger and stay sober. If you aren't to that point yet, please do not get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. Let's bring these staggering statistics down.
I'll leave you with this informative infographic about drinking and DUIs around the holidays.