By Fred Delkin
We’ve been preaching in this space on the evils of alcohol & drug impaired driving. The recently concluded holiday period saw the residents of the state just to our north underline the validity of our messages, with 3,877 DUII arrests incurred statewide from 11/25/11-1/2/12. The long arm of the law has grasped the importance of enforcing sober driving. Here in Oregon, there are measurable results from this enforcement focus. Fatalities from alcohol-induced accidents in our state have dropped from 328 in 1982 to 141 in 2009, according to the state DMV. That’s a good thing, but not nearly enough reason to ignore the mantra of ‘seat belts & sobriety.’
In California, bicyclists have been targeted for pedaling while sauced-a clutch of cyclers in the L.A. area got pulled over for weaving precariously through freeway traffic and five were fined $250 apiece and jailed until recovering sobriety, as recently reported in the L.A. Times….all you Portland pedal pushers, please note!
Las Vegas, proudly endorsing the moniker ‘Sin City’, has no lenience for drivers who get buzzed. Witness Motley Crue rock star singer Vince Neil’s DUII penalty levied by that city’s police–2 weeks in the lockup this past month and an undisclosed financial penalty. Vince is a slow learner, having been charged with manslaughter and spending 20 days in jai and forfeiting $2.5 million to victims in a 1984 fatal alcohol-related accident in L.A.
There is some levity in other accounts of driving while in the grip of joy juice. An Illinois driver had his license revoked for piloting his lawnmower on a beer-buying mission (this was subsequent to a DUII stop in his car. In New York state, another lawnmower jockey was cited for drinking beer while negotiating a highway…he had a BAC of .28.
In Ohio, a backhoe driver got a DUII for driving his vehicle into town and ignoring stop signs. Heavy equipment piloting while drunk is not exclusively an American offense. A German gentleman left a bar to steer his tractor home, but ended up ramming a police car due to impaired reactions certifying his arrest. A similar offense was committed by a Colorado 24-year old skateboarder who ran a red light and struck a police car and tested over the legal BAC limit.
In Delaware, one Jennifer Bowlin was arrested for drunk driving after failing to stop at a sign…and then, four hours later, was the recipient of a DUII in Maryland. Speaking of slow learners, a 50-year old fella in Pennsylvania got two DUII’s in 5 hours and was sent to prison for seven days on the second arrest.
In 2011, drivers in both Georgia and Oklahoma that were cited for DUII’s showed up in court obviously under the influence. Slow learners abound…in New York, an obviously intoxicated driver stopped at police headquarters to ask for directions. He was remanded to a hotel to ‘sleep it off’, but took a taxi back to the police parking lot, snared his car and was then arrested for a DUII.
Yes, alcohol definitely affects a person’s judgment, but more importantly, even a modest intake of alcohol renders physical reactions slower. The failure to properly pilot an auto, truck, boat or plane can lead to even greater consequences than a ‘mere’ DUII. That’s why law enforcement is taking an ever more dimmer view of exceeding the legal BAC. There is no humor in driving impaired. Listen up…save yourself and others from danger and secure both seat belts and sobriety before grabbing wheel or tiller.