Column – Driving under the influence egocentric, careless and foolish

Andrea Ellickson and Andrea Ellickson

Your body hurls forward into a crush of hot bodies, as the bus slams into a telephone pole. Was it just a telephone pole? Or was there someone standing there without eight tons of metal armor? This did not happen, but it may not be so far out of the realm of reality.

Brenda Juarez, a former local MTD bus driver, pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol. After an anonymous phone call, the police pulled her over on Carrillo Street. No one was injured, nothing was damaged. But, how many of us would feel safe riding a bus with a drunk driver?

Lately, the media seems saturated with drunk driving offenses. I’m disgusted with the selfishness, carelessness, and outright idiocy of driving drunk.

Local rabbi’s son Avi Gross-Schaefer was killed by an alleged drunk driver while crossing the street. Germany’s top Protestant cleric Margot Kaessmann was allegedly driving with a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit. “Heroes” actor Adrian Pasdar was charged with a DUI after authorities caught him speeding and veering across two lanes. Some hero.

These are all news articles from the past two weeks. And there are many more.

While growing up, a loved family member collected three DUIs with no chance of a get-out-of-jail-free card on his next offense. From lawyers to fines, to psychologists, to losing licenses, I know the drill.

Now, I find myself with neighbors and housemates that have DUIs on their records. I hear the same responses, the same complaints. The cops were unfair. I can’t believe that son-of-a-beep sent the cops after me. The lawyer’s fees are outrageous. They took my dog, my kid, my keys away from me. I’ve heard it all before. I don’t want to hear it.

And then the friends who utter the words “I don’t even know how I got home last night” with their cars resting in diagonals in the driveway.

I love margaritas and wine with conversations long into the night. I know the predicament. You drove to a bar or friend’s house and now you have to get home. How do you know if you’ve had too much to drink to be able to drive home safely?

Each standard drink contains 0.6 fluid ounces of absolute alcohol, whether it’s wine, beer, or a mixed drink. There’s a handy DMV chart that tells the number of drinks dependent on an individual’s weight and hours drinking. Look it up.

In California, the legal Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is below .08 percent. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “The relative risk of death for drivers in single-vehicle crashes with a high BAC is 385 times that of a zero-BAC driver.”

I’m not a mother who lost her son to a drunk driving accident or a remorseful driver who watched a life flash out of existence in front of her headlights. I’m a college student protesting the stupidity, selfishness, and carelessness of drunk drivers.

We shouldn’t need a personal run-in with tragedy to see this. Stop the bus before it even turns the corner.