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Friday, August 19, 2022

Columns

Moderation needed when celebrating


St. Patrick’s Day is a day full of celebration and, in turn, drinking, sometimes to a frightening degree. With cities across the country reporting an increase in drunk driving arrests, this year’s March 17 seems to have been no different.

These reports are truly sad, and represent a much bigger issue than just one day’s mistakes. While we like to think our society grows safer and smarter with each year, many of us are actually steadily regressing in ways of responsibility. We don’t realize the dangers of driving drunk until an incident forces us to.
Perhaps learning the hard way is too embedded in human nature to ever expect alcohol-free roads. If that’s the case, humans prove to be much less intelligent than we thought.

It’s time to smarten up. If a man is charged with a DWI, that man shouldn’t think of himself as unlucky — he should be counting his blessings and grateful that his buzz was the only thing killed. It’s surprising how thin the line between misdemeanor and murder charge can be.

As college students, alcohol might be an unavoidable part of the experience and can make for a great time, if consumed correctly. But sometimes, after excessive drinking, we revert back to our childish sense of ignorant invincibility that should have been abandoned long ago. We’re not invincible, not in any sense of the word, and nothing will prove that quicker than getting behind the wheel after a night of drunken festivities.

Sadly, while drunk driving is a big issue amongst younger college students, the problem has proven to be more complicated than that of simple maturity. Drunk driving is a crime that holds no age prejudice, which contributes enormously to its danger and presents difficulty in finding its solution. It is one of the only crimes that can make a 16-year-old kid just as dangerous as a fully-grown adult.

Our society is handling drunk driving completely wrong. While strict penalties are obviously helpful, and may even need to be stricter in some cases, they will never do enough to solve the problem. There will never be a charge so severe that it completely eliminates drunk driving.

The intoxicated person isn’t one to worry about much, and the more drinks consumed, the less worrisome he or she becomes. That drive home starts to look easier and easier with every drink. Before long, any thought the person may have had concerning police is out the window.

Our lawmakers need to realize that it is extremely difficult to scare a drunk person. On top of that, by the time a drunk driver does get convicted, the damage has already been done; the car has been totaled and a person has been killed — the crime has been committed.

The whole process is flawed. We spend too much time focusing on punishment when we should be focusing on prevention.

Considering how advanced our technology is these days, it’s shocking that in-car alcohol detection devices aren’t inside every vehicle on the road, preventing the car from functioning if it senses the driver is too drunk.

That would make a difference in the number of drunk drivers. Although the devices would probably be less perfect in actuality than they are as an idea, but I think that’s the direction we need to move in if we want to make a dent in drunk driving. Technology is often criticized as being bad for us — its negatives outweigh the positives. But I think using technology to prevent drunk driving could help reduce a huge social issue more than ever before.

Enjoying yourself is important, especially on holidays. Taking time out to loosen up and relax is crucial, and alcohol is many people’s way of doing so, which I understand. But when it comes to driving, nobody should take a risk. Alcohol has the ability to turn a quick trip home into a tragedy, and it’s been proven time after time.

It’s just not worth it, and it’s unfair to everyone involved. It’s terrifying to imagine possible outcomes of careless drunk driving mistakes.

Some things in life you have to learn the hard way, but this is most certainly not one of them.

Lucas Sepulveda is a creative writing and media production junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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