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No Laughing Matter: Drunk Driving in Michigan

You’re out on a Friday night. It’s been a tough week, you fought with your significant other and you just need to unwind with a couple of brews at the local pub. You’ve only had five beers and you don’t feel like you’re drunk. "Nah," you tell yourself, "I'm fine". You’re especially fine enough to make it back to your house 10 minutes up the road.
 
This is what thousands of drunk drivers think every day when they get behind the wheel. Out of these drivers, 23.4% are 21-25 year olds. 15.1 percent are 18-20 year olds, and 5.8 are 16-17 year olds. After 25 years of age the percentages decrease, but are still substantial.  With so many people driving under the influence, what’s the worst that could happen?
 
Fifteen years in prison. This was the sentence determined for a 22-year-old Michigan resident after he was found guilty of causing a car accident on Christmas Eve resulting in the death of an 8-year-old Detroit girl. His Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) was .16, double that of the legal limit in the state of Michigan.
 
Tragically, a 37-year-old woman from Ypsilanti Township is awaiting court after she was charged with DWI, among other charges, following a crash that resulted in the death of her 6-week-old son.
 

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Is No Joke

Any driver with a BAC of .08 ore higher is past the legal limit and will face serious consequences.michigan state police logo
 
First-Time Offense
  • Up to 93 days incarceration
  • Up to $500 fine
Second-Time Offense
  • Up to one year incarceration 
  • Up to $1000 fine
Third-Time Offense
  • Up to 5 years incarceration
  • Minimum license suspension of 1 year
  • Considered a felony conviction
 
These consequences are assigned if the police pull the driver over before an accident occurs. The consequences are definitely more severe if the driver has caused an accident or death.
 

Prevention Is Key

With the threat of jail and severe fines, one would think drivers would be deterred from drinking and driving. However, thousands continue to drink and drive every day. So what makes a normal person get behind the wheel when it is common knowledge that one should not drink and drive? We all go to Driver’s Ed. and watch the cheesy tapes on drunk driving and are warned through numerous dramatic advertisements.
 
It is not so much that the typical driver is unaware of the problems that are a result of driving drunk but more so that they are distant from it. The average driver, who has not come in contact with the harshness of the law or the death of a loved one due to drunk driving, has a confident belief that “it won’t happen to me.”
 
One tactic that may be effective is telling personal stories of those who have lost a loved one because of a drunk driver. Although some drivers are immune to the dangers of drunk driving, they are not immune to empathy. Humanity still feels the pain of others when gruesome details of a horrific incident are shared.
 
Regardless of the anti-drunk driving campaigns, it is still the duty of the driver to take responsibility of their actions. 
 
The biggest problem regarding prevention is not making the appropriate plans for a night out. When you are already 4 drinks in and feeling the effects of alcohol, it is too late to figure out who is sober enough to drive home. Make arrangements BEFORE you leave the house. 
 
If no one is willing to drive: no problem. You still have the option of staying the night at a friend’s place who lives walking distance from the drinking spot. Take a cab, bus, or train home. If you are a student, many campuses offer shuttle services and bus routes that can bring you safely back to your dorm after a night out. Driving home drunk is not the last option you have. It is not an option at all.
 

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