Sunday, December 11, 2011
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you will know that I’m listed as one of the Top 40 Blogs against drunk driving. I’m proud of having that honor and am a die-hard advocate of drunk driving prevention. When I noticed a program on TLC titled “DUI” I knew I would be watching.
They are 30-minute programs that show many people being stopped at safety checkpoints in
. Many drivers are shown in varying states of drunkenness – zero to off the charts stupid. Two of the stopped drivers are featured for each program. The two drivers are followed from the roadside sobriety test all the way to their court appearance. Oklahoma
I’ve never been arrested and that means, I have no first hand knowledge of what it’s like to have your mug shot taken and placed in a cell. Well… I’ve been fingerprinted from employment security purposes and I’ve been searched by TSA agents at the airport. But, somehow, I just don’t think that equates to the fingerprinting and searching at the jail.
It was interesting to see the process. I was expecting to see more of a “Scared Straight” type of jail scene, but it was just not there. Everything was clean and the officers were understanding and – actually – compassionate. They weren’t wimps. I wouldn’t want to take any of them on. But, I would not have been afraid of them.
All the drivers arrested were remorseful. Of course they would be, they’ve been arrested and are on camera, for heaven’s sake! But another thing kept being repeated over and over again by the drivers. They all stated at some point in the process that “they didn’t deserve this.” I wondered what they DO deserve for putting other people’s lives in danger. What did the drunk drivers think would be an appropriate punishment? Would they deserve it if they killed someone as a result of driving under the influence?
I was further dismayed when not even ONE of the drivers served ANY jail time. They were all either issued deferred sentences (meaning their record would be expunged if they had no further incidents within the next year) or probation. Some lost their licenses for a while – but not long enough. One young lady was required to install a breathalyzer in her car. I thought that was a good thing. But, in general, the state of
would be an easy state to live in if I were prone to drunk driving. Oklahoma
There was a gentleman who decided to go into rehab after the arrest. He was not forced into it by the judge. He simply made a decision to go and then went. When he completed rehab, he went back to court and received a sentence that made him spend two weekends in jail. My hope is that he continues along his non-alcoholic path. So let me get this straight -- this guy stopped denying that he has a probem and got help and still served some time. The others stayed in denial, one even openly continued to drink excessively, and they didn't spend so much as one full night in jail. How is that justice?
Two of the drivers featured on the program had all charges dropped. After submitting to the blood test to determine the level of alcohol in the system, there was not enough to deem them as drunk drivers. I think it’s good for us to see that law enforcement makes mistakes and that we have nothing to fear if we are not intoxicated. As I was watching the field sobriety test, I knew I would fail without so much as being in the neighborhood with alcohol. I can’t stand on one foot and my balance is not so good, so I’m not sure I could walk that straight line so well. I always lose my place when counting backward. So although I don’t drink – I might not pass the test. It’s good to know that a blood test would absolve me.
But, the two that were fortunate enough to get the charges dropped had actually been drinking before they got behind the wheel. They just had not drank enough to warrant any consequences. I wonder if they had just been stopped too soon. If they had been stopped an hour later, would they still have been let off? Or would have be drunker because he had more time to get wasted?
It was only the first four programs in a series, so maybe the cops and judges will get more hard-nosed as the program goes on. I certainly hope so. I would not want my teenagers to view this show, because I don’t like the message it sends. The learning experience here is not the dangers of drunk driving, but rather that you can get away with it with only minor consequences. It also doesn’t seem to convey that jail is such a bad place. You go to jail, get a bond and then go home. It just appears way too simple.
According to the NIAA website, in 2004, 39.5% of all fatal traffic accidents were alcohol related. (See http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/Resources/DatabaseResources/QuickFacts/TrafficCrashes/Pages/crash01.aspx) I suppose that’s good since it has come down from the 1982 statistic of 59.6%. And according to the CDC we've only come down to 32% in 2009. (See http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html) So we’ve come down from more than half to about a third. I guess that’s something we can be proud of. But, I still don’t think those are very good odds.
I know of one drunk that does not drive because I make it impossible for him to do so. Riley badgers me everyday to get his car running so he can drive. But, I drag my feet and make excuses because to turn him lose on the road would be paramount to putting a loaded gun in his hand in the middle of
Times Square and telling him to shoot the pigeons. It’s just not a good idea.
In my opinion, TLC has an opportunity to show the real dangers of drunk driving. My message to them is – toughen up. The real danger is not that the wife will be upset or that they may lose their jobs. The real danger is that some innocent person may end up dead in the middle of the pavement on a cold, dark road. Drunk drivers need a reality check. TLC has the chance to do that and I hope they don’t miss the mark.
DUI is scheduled to air again on December 15, 2011 beginning at 8 pm and will show four programs in a row. It will also repeat two programs beginning at 11 pm that same night. On December 16, 2011 two shows will repeat at 1 am.
at 4:00 AM