Here is a common drinking and driving story: “Yeah man, I don’t remember getting home and it was awesome.” Others include a friend who knocked off a side mirror on a fence and another who tore off a license plate frame before leaving the parking lot.
Here’s a less common story: The pigs pulled me over and I was barely drunk. I paid $675 for bail, set a court date and will blow another two thousand on lawyer fees so I can keep my license. The next time I drive sloshed, I’ll be careful.
Lesson learned, and not a moment too soon.
This is my personal favorite: I drank. I drove. I killed a family of four. Now I’m in jail, forever. Hi-ho!
The first story has become so common that it reduces the gravity of driving while intoxicated. It’s a laughing matter that someone can barely escape incarceration or the destruction of life when it shouldn’t be. Part of the problem is that the anti-drinking/driving propaganda sympathizes with the victims. A more effective angle would be to show the consequences of being an idiot.
Before I had a learner’s permit, or the taste for beer, I was instructed never to mix the two. This education invariably highlighted a family devastated by a reckless drunk driver. A brief segment included the drunk driver confessing how sorry he felt.
When I was in high school, posters of Jacqueline Saburido were all over the walls. A supplemental video interviewed her about her grueling recovery after being struck by a drunk driver. The man responsible, a teenager, spends two minutes expressing his regret and a desire to make things right.
These documentaries are very sad but also terrible advertising campaigns, on par with the DARE program. If I wrote an anti-drinking/driving campaign, it would look like this:
Introduce John Doe, a man incarcerated for vehicular manslaughter. Follow John around for one day of his prison sentence. Catalogue the joys of community showers, cafeteria dining and life with a bunkmate.
The interview questions they ask now are too fluffy, “If you could go back . . .” or “Do you feel bad about what you did?”
I would ask pointed questions like, “How do you like being sodomized daily?”
Sympathizing with victims won’t stop people from driving home drunk (or buzzed, or tipsy, etc.). Reinforcing the negative consequences is more likely to keep someone off the road. Besides, it’s very difficult to convey guilt, but the horrors of prison are much easier to visualize.
The next time you stumble to your car with a BAC nearing your GPA, don’t think about the burned girl. Before you shove your key into the ignition, think about whether you’ll be scheduling your routine sodomy before or after lunch.