We all know we shouldn’t drink and drive–yet it continues to happen. According to the Bureau of Transportation, three people are killed by alcohol-related crashes every two hours. The good news is that drunk driving rates have been steadily decreasing over the past three decades, which suggests that the ‘don’t drink and drive’ message is sinking into the public consciousness.
It’s important, however, to stay mindful of exactly why we shouldn’t drink and drive. Here are three of the biggest DUI stories of the decade and what we should learn from them.
1. Drunk driver kills the parents of five children.
On February 7, 2010, Chad Olson decided to drive home after a night out drinking with friends. His life changed forever when he drove through a red traffic light and crashed into the car of Brad and Krista Howe, parents of five, killing them. He broke down upon hearing the news from the police. Full of remorse, Olson says that he hadn’t felt impaired, though he had two beers and two double rum drinks earlier in the evening. He pled guilty and is committed to telling his story in public to warn against drinking and driving.
Lesson Learned: As Indiana DUI defense lawyers, we hear this story often: the drunk driver hadn’t felt impaired. Olson’s story shows that even if you believe that you’re perfectly alert after drinking, alcohol can fatally affect your attention and reaction times–even hours after your last drink.
2. Drunk driver dashes a triathlete’s dreams.
In 2017, Livi Pejo had just completed her first triathlon a day earlier when she was struck from behind by a drunk driver as she walked down the street. Today, she’s paralyzed from the neck down. The driver faces up to five years in prison.
Lesson Learned: Drunk drivers aren’t the only ones who have to live with the consequences of their actions. Pejo and her family’s lives have changed forever due to the driver’s actions. Pejo, who cherished her independence, now requires care 24/7 and even requires a ventilator to breathe. Getting behind the wheel after drinking is not worth the pain you may cause to yourself or others.
3. Multi-state drunk driver arrested in Illinois
In Riverside, Illinois, the police arrested a 41-year-old woman who was sitting behind the wheel of her car at a gas station with glassy, bloodshot eyes and an open bottle of whiskey on the passenger seat. As it turned out, the woman had six prior drunk driving arrests in six states and three additional states had warrants out for her arrest. Now known as “one of the worst DUI offenders” in the country, she was charged in for felony aggravated drunken driving, two counts of misdemeanor drunk driving, driving without vehicle insurance, and driving with a license revoked for drunken driving.
Lesson learned: If you’re a serial drunk driver, the law will catch up with you eventually. If you’re charged with DUI once, seek the help you need to ensure that it never happens again.