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A drink driving conundrum 12 July 2009

Posted by The Inimitable M in Bob Nelson.
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I read Bob Nelson’s column yesterday, and it gave me pause.  He wrote about a woman in Omaha who had driven a friend of hers home across a golf course in a golf cart, rolled the golf cart, killed the friend. 

They were both drunk.

The county brought charges.  That’s the law.  There are no allowances for guilt or the needless loss of a friend. 

As the county prosecutor put it, the woman now has her day in court.

This is true.

Should we be outraged that charges were brought against her?

In a short span of time, a similar incident occurred, but this time a man was driving a boat on the back of which was his wife and one of her friends on inner tubes.  The friend slammed into a dock and died. 

Everyone had been drinking, including the driver of the boat, whose alcohol level was double the legal limit.

Should charges be brought?  That’s the law.  There are no allowances for guilt or the needless loss of a friend.

The man would have his day in court.

Thirty-eight years ago, two couples I knew from high school were riding on a gravel road.  The couple in the front seat was arguing vehemently.  The young man was speeding and ran a stop sign going out onto a major highway.  A car coming from the other direction, who happened to be someone they knew, hit them.  The young man in the back seat of the car running the stop sign was killed.

Everyone in both cars had been drinking.

I don’t even remember now who, if anyone, was charged.  But it’s the law.  There are no allowances for guilt or the needless loss of a friend.

What would you have done?  Does the loss of a friend, the fact that their lives will be changed forever, have anything to do with charges having been brought, or the outcome of each case?

If so, what about those who, when drinking, kill someone they don’t know who happens to be riding in their vehicle?  How does that make it any different?  There will be guilt.  There will be the needless loss of someone.

Bob said something else:

“But in looking back, I feel I would hold some responsibility if I were injured because I agreed to go along.”

Always?

I don’t have any answers.  I don’t know who does. 

I do know that I seldom drink.  I would never get in the car with someone who had been drinking, but I have in the past, and what happened in the past couple of weeks makes me realise just how lucky I’ve really been.

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Comments»

1. Allyson - 12 July 2009

Our law and lore holds that we be accountable for our actions. There is always a decision made by the driver of a vehicle, including those who ‘drive’ such things as golf carts, scooters, bicycles, and in some towns, horses, to take control of something that they have at least a base awareness, is a task that they haven’t full control over. And the more you have to drink, the more reckless and heedless you become. I know this because I do drink to excess occasionally.

When you make the decision to do something reckless, knowing the penalties for such recklessness in the event of an accident, knowing the increased risk of an accident occurring, then you must pay the consequences, whether that person is your dearest love, or a complete stranger.

Not long after I had my license, I was involved in a car accident. I was drunk. I knew it, and I knew that I shouldn’t be driving a car. Luckily, although there was a great deal of damage done to my car, and his was written off, neither he nor I were hurt, and we had no passengers. Twelve years later, I’m glad I had that experience, glad I suffered my penalties, and woke up to the fact that it’s never okay to get drunk and drive anything. Now when I have a drink, it’s at home with friends. When I go out, I stay sober to drive, or get a cab.

Whew, what a chat. Pardon my windbaggery Maggie 🙂 We all make choices, we all decide to act, and we must always remember that each action has one of many consequences. We must accept the consequence that our actions have ultimately led to, regardless of its pleasure or pain.


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