The scenario is not uncommon. It’s Friday night. It’s been a long week—your boss is a pain, clients are unreasonable, traffic is horrible, and if Susie from accounting asks for that report that one more time, you’ll lose it. So you’re at happy hour; a glass of pinot noir is great when commiserating about a bad week, and you are a finally having a good time.
Now it’s time to head home. Even though you’ve had a few drinks, you shared an appetizer and you’ve done this before. You know your body. Yeah, that’s what Sarah Panzau thought, too.
In a recent Columbus Dispatch article, Panzau described a fateful night when she left a bar visibly intoxicated. Panzau went on to flip her car four times, take out a large portion of guard rail, and lose her left arm when she was flung out of the back windshield. She wasn’t wearing a seat belt, and broken glass severed her arm.
Panzau is one of the lucky ones. She lived. Nearly 13,000 people per year in the United States are killed in alcohol-related accidents.
Losing a life. Let’s be clear—the greatest danger of driving while intoxicated is killing yourself, a passenger in your car, or someone in another vehicle. While people get away with driving intoxicated each day, the numbers don’t lie. According to the Insurance Information Institute, there is an alcohol-related traffic fatality in the United States every 48 minutes.
All other dangers are secondary and surround the other notable consequence of driving intoxicated: being arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI.) If you haven’t been arrested for DUI, you probably know someone who has; 1.5 million people are arrested each year.
The ramifications of a DUI can be far reaching. Here are some examples:
Losing your job. Being arrested for DUI brings with it the possibility of being fired from employment. This becomes even more likely if driving is a primary function of your job. Also, many companies have policies against employees being arrested. Beyond losing your job, getting a new job is challenge because the reason for your termination will invariably surface.
Losing your license. If you are arrested for DUI, you will likely have your license revoked. The conditions will be based on whether this is your first offense and if anyone was seriously injured. You will probably have to complete a DUI education course before your license can be reinstated.
Having higher car insurance rates. Most states require DUI offenders to request a form called an SR-22 from their auto insurers. This form proves to the DMV that you carry liability insurance and removes your license suspension. An insurer’s knowledge of a DUI may put the driver in a “high risk” category, leading to much higher insurance rates and possible termination of the policy.
What’s critical to note about driving intoxicated is that it’s completely avoidable. While it seems easier to hop into the driver’s seat after a few drinks, the prospect of killing someone or losing your job, license, or car insurance is anything but easy to deal with. For the sake of yourself and those around you, do whatever it takes to avoid drinking and driving. Taking a cab or calling a friend for a ride are both better options than getting behind the wheel yourself.
For more information on avoiding the dangers of alcohol and illegal drugs visit LiveFree! online. We are committed to keeping Pinellas County safe and helping the community find ways to improve our society via activism and education.