The terrible cost of irresponsibility
May 14, 2013 | 8862 views | 0 0 comments | 906 906 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The scene never fails to move me. A mangled car in front of Marshall County High School is a very telling message: Don’t drink and drive.

I was young once, too. I did my share of dumb stuff. We all did. It’s a minor miracle we made it to adulthood. But to belabor the point, celebrate wisely. It’s against the law for teens to drink, and I’d be naïve to think everyone will abide by the law. Don’t do it, but if you do, have a designated driver.

I wish I could say I sleep easy. I don’t. I never have. But it’s getting harder and harder for me to sleep when I vividly recall every horrible crash I’ve seen during my career. Time and again, I’ll ask the sheriff or a police officer, “Was alcohol a factor?” More often than not, in the worst of them, where people have suffered serious injury or were killed, the response is yes.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving was founded in 1980. I remember MADD mothers coming to us in school in the 1980s. I was years away from driving, but it made sense. Get the message to the kids well before they drive. I’m sure most Marshall County students heard it early, and all through school.

There is an entire class of young people that are about to have their first real dose of freedom and adulthood. You all have accomplished so much in 18 years. You are about to accomplish many more things as adults. Some of you will go on to college. Some of you will get jobs and learn a trade. There’s so much to enjoy as adults. Marriage, parenthood and success are just a few. And my wish for every member of this graduating class is that every one of you enjoys all of the joys of adult life. One bad mistake could take that all away in an instant.

I’ve written about this before. I’ve covered a lot of trials where a defendant has been accused, and in most cases, convicted of assault, murder and DUI, in cases where someone was hurt or killed by a drunk driver. The driver thought it would never happen to them. Their regret and sorrow for the lives they’ve taken or impacted is far more real than their sense of invulnerability ever was. Every one of them on the witness stand said their sole prayer was to take back their decision to drive impaired. Sadly, there are no do-overs.

I said “decision to drive” for a purpose. We all have choices. We can choose to ride with a designated driver. We can choose to call our parents. I am not a parent, but if I were, I would be happier, and much less angry, to pick up my son or daughter from a party than I would to have them end up in the funeral home or jail. Call a friend who is not at the party. If it’s close, and safe, walk home. Marshall County now has a taxi service. Their rates are reasonable. Call a cab.

The worst part of my job is to write about people killed in wrecks. I drive like an old lady because I am scared anymore.

Do me a favor, and above that, do yourself, your parents, your brothers and sisters and grandparents a favor. Do the innocent person on the road a favor. If you party, have fun, but be responsible. Don’t be the next person I have to write about who got killed or killed someone in a DUI-related wreck. n
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