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Friday, December 28, 2007

My Second Holiday Wish

Connie Castanera

Last week my wish for this holiday season was for ALL to feel valued, loved, appreciated, and respected. This week, I would like to add to last week's wish. If we were all truly valued, loved, appreciated and respected, we probably wouldn't need to discuss the tragic results of those who drive while impaired (DWI) or drive under the influence (DUI), because we would all be more likely to make good responsible choices. But that is not the case.

We all know someone who is notorious for being irresponsible about drinking and driving. These tend to be people who truly don't value their own life or the lives of others. These are people who clearly don't or won't think about the possible consequences of their actions before getting behind the wheel of an automobile.

Offenders could be parents, children, friends, family friends, or neighbors. They are usually people who think that they are careful drivers, believe that they are not too impaired to drive, and who often refuse to consider the warnings imposed on them by those of us who care.

I could cite statistics about how many deaths occur due to DWI or DUI, and it may or may not impress you. The truth is that if even one person dies tragically due to another person's irresponsible actions and choices, that is one too many.

We have all seen local news features about innocent people who have lost their lives due to the irresponsible choices of others, or about those who have lost their own lives because of an irresponsible choice to drive while impaired or under the influence. We find it sad, but the truth is that we all know someone in our own family or circle of friends or co-workers that could have easily been the perpetrator in that sad story.

If you can think of someone who could easily become the perpetrator of an accident due to irresponsible DWI or DUI, now is the time to do your best to prevent a tragic event from happening. Yes, I am suggesting that you step up and do your best to prevent a possible offender from driving. You may not succeed on your own, but you can enlist the help of others.

This New Years Eve (when people are most likely to drink too much), I am suggesting that you take notice of those that have had too much to drink and, if necessary, take steps to prevent them from putting themselves and/or others at risk. You can take their keys away, hide them, or do whatever you can to keep them from driving. You may need to call the police, which may result in someone you care about being angry with you. But, consider the alternative.

If you are successful in preventing a possible tragic outcome; you may never know, but you surely won't be thinking, "If only I had tried harder to keep _____ from driving while intoxicated, I could have saved a life." Every life is precious.

I'm not suggesting that you "make it your responsibility" to prevent someone from driving while impaired. But, I am suggesting that you do what you can to encourage responsible behavior in others. Sometimes that means making responsible choices for someone who is not able to make responsible choices for themselves.

In my opinion, the punishment for driving while impaired is not severe enough. If it were, we wouldn't be seeing as many drinking-related fatalities on our roads. People are willing to take the risk and drive after having several drinks. Perhaps, we should take away a driver's license for a longer period of time on the first offense; impose hefty fines, community service, and perhaps meaningful jail time. Dying in a tragic accident is far more severe.

Here is a website that provides information on Maryland drunk driving laws, including the most recent updates.

My wish for the New Year is that we all look after our fellow human beings, assist and encourage them to make responsible choices when it comes to driving. The life saved may be the life of your loved one, but, no doubt, the life of a person who is loved by someone.

I wish you a safe, happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year in 2008!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a great start - giving folks a heads-up before the parties - afterwards may be too late.

A happy and safe New Year to you.