Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Several months ago I shared the story of a family whose lives were changed forever by one man’s choice to drive under the influence of alcohol. For the second part of this series I recounted my voluntary visit to the courthouse in support of my colleague as he spoke at a Victims Impact Panel. This week, with a new post titled More Than A Number, I wrap up a three-part series on alcohol related deaths due to drunk driving. If you missed either of the first two stories in this series, Her Name is Megan, or Victim Impact Panel, the link to access those pages is located at the end of this post.
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To be honest with you, prior to this series I hadn’t thought much about drunk driving or its consequences. Perhaps that’s mainly because my beverage of choice is fresh brewed iced tea. But each person is different and has his or her own beverage of choice. While I simply choose to drink iced tea, others may prefer the taste of a frosty cold one, crave water, wake up and go to bed with a firm grip on their coffee mug, enjoy a glass of wine with meals, live on soda, or select something stronger.
Since I don’t drink coffee or alcohol, and rarely drink soda, I am clueless to many facts surrounding these types of beverages. (Actually, I am also clueless to the facts surrounding tea.) In order to gain more insight about alcoholic beverages and their effects, I perused several websites including: DUI websites, the MADD website, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse website. I learned some eye opening information about both the financial and psychological ramifications of drunk driving crashes.
However, before I dive into those components, I should define what equals a standard drink. According to the NIDA site, a standard drink is equivalent to the following measurements:
- 6 ounces of pure ethanol
- 12 ounces of beer
- 8 ounces of malt liquor
- 5 ounces of wine
- 5 ounces (a “shot”) of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, or whiskey)
Once alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream (this doesn’t take long) it begins to slow down the body. The obvious effect of consuming more drinks is the higher the level of impairment, or in other words, the slower the brain function and motor skills.
With slower brain function and delayed motor skills, choosing to get behind the wheel after drinking can lead to irreversible consequences on multiple levels.
The MADD website addresses the psychological cost associated with these decisions which can include incarceration, fatalities, and injuries. Each of these consequences also cross over to the financial cost of driving drunk.
But let’s back up and talk about specific statistics regarding drunk driving crashes:
- Every 2 minutes a person is injured
- There are roughly 27 fatalities a day
- Every 53 minutes someone dies
- Approximately 795 people are injured daily
- On a yearly basis these numbers equate to 9,855 deaths and 290,175 injuries
Talk about some sobering numbers!
Aside from psychological costs, DWI’s are also financially costly, specifically for offenders who live in the state of New York. The Stop DWI New York website estimates the cost of a typical DWI ranges from $ 4,000 to $ 15,000 depending on the following charges:
- Fines – $ 300 to $ 10,000
- Court surcharges – $ 260 – $ 520 (for each offense)
- Driver Responsibility Assessments – $ 750
- Licensing re-issuance fee
- Attendance fee to the NYS Drinking Driver Program – $ 200 – $ 250
- Substance abuse evaluation/treatment (insurance could partially cover)
- Lawyer’s fees – $ 2,000 to $ 10,000
- Increased auto insurance premiums – 3 times the usual cost
But the biggest cost isn’t financial. The biggest cost is the damage to or loss of a life.
And life is MORE than a number.
The scars from these crashes don’t play favorites. The residual effects linger in all parties. For the injured, the deceased’s family, and the offender—scars are inevitable, and may never completely heal.
Nightmares and flashbacks are difficult to squelch. Guilt and shame resurface. The “If only’s” continue to replay in the mind. Forgiveness may be challenging to accept or offer, especially when attempting to forgive oneself.
Truthfully, we make life-altering choices every day. With each choice we make, we can never rewind the clock to the moment before.
Getting behind the wheel while impaired is a choice.
Please, PLEASE . . . choose wisely . . . Life really is More Than a Number.
And as my friend Sam says, “There are already too many empty picture frames symbolizing lost memories and lost loves ones as a result of drunk driving crashes.”
Thank you for reading this post.
Click to access the post titled Her Name Is Megan
Click to access the post titled Victim Impact Panel
** Background photo for the title picture is compliments of Pixabay.com
Sources accessed while writing this post:
Stop DWI Website http://www.stopdwi.org/resources-consequences-cost accessed March 1, 2017
MADD Website http://www.madd.org/drunk-driving/about/drunk-driving-statistics.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/ accessed March 1, 2017
NIH Website https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/alcohol accessed March 1, 2017