Drunk driving: if you see something, say something
Even though we have been told to avoid it at all costs from the time we were young, people everywhere, every day, are still choosing to drive drunk. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Association (NHTSA), even though fatalities from drunk-driving have fallen in the past few decades, drunk driving crashes still claim more than 10,000 lives every year. It is baffling that with all of the tragedies, consequences and possible means of transportation that thousands are still choosing to drive under the influence of alcohol. Is it merely the convenience that pushes drivers to get behind the wheel? Perhaps it is time that the friends of these drivers begin stepping in to stop these crashes from happening.
An annual report from the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office reveals that 568 drunken driving arrests were made in 2017, which demonstrates a steady increase of arrests over the past three years. The charges from a drunken driving arrest can range from misdemeanors to felony offenses with a possible fines and legal fees upwards of $10,000. Individuals caught driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or more could find themselves dealing with hefty penalties including driver's license revocation, fines and jail time. In Michigan, a standard charge of operating while intoxicating (OWI) is a misdemeanor and could earn someone up to 90 days in jail.
There is also the possibility of harming those that come into contact with a drunk driver, often resulting in fatalities. A drunken driver who causes a death could be charged with vehicular homicide and face up to 15 years in prison. Beyond the substantial fines, penalties and jail time, these charges will also remain on a person's record forever and can hinder future job prospects.
Legally, employers can have policies that allows for dismissal if an employee is convicted of a crime or if the loss of a license poorly impacts their ability to get to work. Future employers are also able to inquire about misdemeanor and felony convictions and can choose to not hire someone because of past convictions.
It is 2018. Drunk driving should not still be a problem of this magnitude. We have known this information for years and yet people are still making these poor choices. In the age of Uber, Lyft and public transportation, driving home at the end of the night should never fall on an intoxicated person. The responsibility is now falling on bystanders who see this behavior and must put a stop to it. There are times someone who has been drinking may not realize their incapability to drive and it is up to those around them to step in and say something.
Grand Valley currently holds recovery meetings for those looking to stop abusing alcohol. Recovery meetings are held each day in Kirkhof room 0073, information on meeting times can be found at https://www.gvsu.edu/aces/.
It is up to the community to recognize how drunk driving remains a pending problem for Grand Valley and west Michigan to end these tragedies and promote safe and responsible drinking.