According to drinkinganddriving.org, "90% of all drunk driving happens after drinking with family, friends, and co-workers. There is almost always somebody around who could be part of the solution. Don't let drunk driving happen right in front of you." I focused on that quote because it seems counterintuitive that people close to each other would allow someone intoxicated, and who they care about, to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. They know that the intoxicated person could easily kill, maim or otherwise injure other people or themselves, as well as be arrested and booked into jail.
If the findings of drinkinganddriving.org are indeed true, then it becomes obvious that family, friends and coworkers are excellent target audiences for education and action to help with the DUI problem. They should be one of the main focuses of any anti-DUI campaign. Pressure from people who care is likely one of the most effective ways to dissuade an intoxicated person from driving a car or any other vehicle. Intoxicated drivers more often than not reach that stage while in the presence of others - so why do others not intervene? I have to believe that this happens because of a number of reasons, none the least of which is that maybe the family, friends and co-workers are also intoxicated and unable to use sound judgment.
A sense of reluctance (on the part of the person trying to help) probably also comes into play. Intoxicated persons may resent having their judgment questioned and they are quick to get angry when someone interferes with their plans to drive a motor vehicle. Other factors such as the lateness of the hour, the possible inconvenience of having to shuffle cars or costs of a taxi may also be issues that cause people to give up and hope that the intoxicated person makes it home safely or without being arrested.
The best solution to these trying situations is to plan ahead by making arrangements for a designated driver or to pay for a taxi. Anytime driving a motor vehicle and any intoxicants are part of a social plan, the involved persons absolutely must make alternative plans for traveling. If a designated driver has the transportation responsibility, that person should abstain from any and all intoxicants. What the other members of the party do is for them to decide.
The holiday season is here, so the points made in this column are highly relevant. Office parties, dining out where alcoholic drinks are involved, going to bars or any other social activity where drinking is involved takes place more often during the latter part of November through New Year's Eve. Accordingly, law enforcement also plans ahead and substantially increases the number of DUI enforcement officers who are charged with the responsibility of rigorously enforcing the DUI laws. The state and federal government provides local agencies with grant funding to pay for these increased policing activities.
At the same time, both governmental agencies and private organizations do their best to raise public awareness to the need for DUI prevention. There is also an emphasis placed on the consequences of being arrested for DUI; it is very costly and often life-changing in terms of the arrested person's self-esteem and how others look at them. Many employers refuse to hire anyone who has been arrested for DUI.
With so many destructive consequences for driving while intoxicated, it makes perfect sense for family, friends and co-workers to look out for each other and to do what is necessary to keep an intoxicated person from driving any motor vehicle. I wish everyone the best times during this holiday season.