In an effort to combat drunk driving over the holidays, police officers in Michigan stepped up the number of patrols and traffic stops. Between Dec. 16-Jan. 2, officers around the state arrested 356 suspected drunk drivers and hundreds of others suspected of lesser crimes.
In Washtenaw County, officers worked an additional 310 hours that resulted in more than 200 citations, including a few drunk driving arrests.
Before anything else, kudos is due to the state of Michigan and its police officers who worked overtime to keep the streets as safe as possible for the rest of us.
But you have to ask yourself, what about the 356 motorists who ended their night in the back of a squad car? Why did they get behind the wheel of a car when they were above the legal blood alcohol level?
If you have the answer, I’m all ears. It’s safe to say a good portion of the adults in the state enjoy drinking at least every once in awhile, but most of them don’t get behind the wheel. Why is it some people do?
First, it’s extremely dangerous for the driver and the rest of us. Second, there isn’t a significant benefit to drunk driving. If you rob a bank, you leave with several thousand dollars. If you get in the car while drunk, the best-case scenario is you end up at your destination. There’s no payoff.
Third, there aren’t societal factors at play. The criminal who mugs you on the street is doing so because he needs the money or he wasn’t raised right or you name it. Most criminals are in some way, the product of their environment.
But drunk drivers are just drunk drivers. You can’t explain away drunk driving – you just thought you were sober enough.
The fourth reason is drunk driving is such an unacceptable thing to admit. Try telling a group of strangers you have a DUI on your record. See what people think.
It just doesn’t make any sense. Why would anyone do something that’s dangerous, has no payoff, can’t be explained by your upbringing and earns you a modern-day scarlet letter?
In Michigan, four people died over the holidays because of an alcohol-related automobile accident. That number is painfully high, but it could easily have been higher if not for the officers who arrested those who were driving while intoxicated. That doesn’t even include the drivers who, by the grace of God, made it home even though they were drunk.
Why did those drivers do it? They couldn’t call a friend or a cab? No, they just thought they were sober enough. They thought they were a good enough driver to handle it. And because of that, over two weeks in Michigan alone, four people are dead.
In the next year across the country, more than 10,000 people will die from an alcohol-related car accident.
It’s entirely preventable. That number could be zero. It’s simple: don’t drink and drive. If everyone subscribed to that simple, widely talked about phrase, we’d have a lot more friends and neighbors still with us.
If you aren’t one of the people who drink and drive, you’re not helpless and you aren’t immune from criticism. Simply put, as cliché as it may be, friends don’t let friends drive drunk.
Take their keys. Throw them on the room, put them in the freezer, swallow them if you have to. Don’t let anyone on the road who’s had anything to drink. It’s just not worth it.
Often times, there aren’t absolute right and wrongs. But in this case, there are. Don’t drive if you’ve had anything to drink, because chances are you’ve had too much. And even if you haven’t, why take the chance? You have nothing to gain and everything to lose.
It just defies understanding. If this sounds melodramatic or overly preachy, I can direct you to tens of thousands of funerals that will be held this year because someone had too much to drink and didn’t think he or she had.