What is wrong with this picture? "Drunk Driver Hits Teen Head On..." and "Man Drives High on Drugs with 2 year old in the Back Seat". These are just two articles posted in Muskego Patch, within the last week or so, related to driving while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. These all too common headlines are invading our media across the country today.
We all know or should know the basics behind the consequences of drinking (drugging) and driving. The question is...Do we really know the "real" consequences and to what extent? Or is it that we live in a society that people only care about themselves and have no regard for the human race as a whole? I know for a fact that some people do only care about themselves, but I'm not ready to believe it's a majority.
For some reason, drinking (drugging) while operating a motor vehicle is an epidemic more than ever before. What's even more disturbing and confusing is that we are more educated today. We live in a time where topics like this are discussed, whether in our schools, the news, internet or courageous victim's opening up and sharing their stories. These stories and statistics are making the front page of our newspapers, breaking news and discussed in our social media, like YouTube and Facebook. It's everywhere!
Why are people still doing it?
We live with this mindset that it's not going to happen to us.
Most people look at the consequences of drinking (drugging) and driving as getting pulled over by the police, getting a ticket, a fine, having to take AA classes or going to Huber jail. THINK AGAIN!! These MINOR consequences go much deeper and need to be taken more seriously. The offenders should consider these minor reprimands as a "wake up call", a "second chance", a "blessing" and this reckless behavior needs to stop. If you can't stop endangering other's lives and the drugs and/or alcohol is affecting your life or your loved one's lives negatively...you have a problem and need to highly consider professional help. It's one thing to harm yourself, but the problem with drinking (drugging) and driving is the offenders very seldom harm themselves. Statistically, the person breaking the law isn't the one truly suffering from the aftermath. What I mean by that is it's the innocent victims that the drunk (drugged) driver is sharing the roads or the vehicle with while committing the crime that are suffering.
What's incredibly hard to understand is the repeated offender. We all make mistakes, but when are these people going to wake up and realize a law is a law. We all are required to abide by them, so what makes these individuals think they are above them? Is it because the fines are too little? The law isn't tough enough at the time of the first or second offense? Or is it easy for them to get an attorney to speak for them and the punishment then becomes a slap on the wrist?
Think about this...
If you were responsible for causing major life altering injuries to another or worse yet taking the life of an innocent victim from their own family and loved ones - would it be enough for you to stop driving while using drugs and alcohol? Could you live with that guilt and/or feel right about living your own life free of pain, major medical bills, debilitation, walking and breathing on your own?
When I talk about major life altering injuries the list is never ending, but here's a few I'd like to point out. Imagine being responsible for an individual living on life support with a ventilator taking every single breath for them, brain damage or a spinal cord injury, either resulting in paraplegia or quadriplegia, which means paralysis from the waste down or neck and chest down.
Since, I am living life as a quadriplegic, due to my drunk driver; I'd like to give you a little more insight. I was stripped away from my livelihood, career, dignity, pride and most importantly, my independence! In just mere seconds, my designated driver's lack of judgment and poor decision making turned my once “normal” life into anything but normal. I went from being an active, independent 24 year old woman to a woman dependent on everyone around me.
Of course, I lost the ability to walk and the use of all my faculties, but there's much more than meets the eye. I lost the ability to do everyday things ranging from grooming, bathing, dressing myself, styling my hair, applying my make-up, brushing my teeth, writing my own name to literally, losing the function to go to the bathroom on my own. When I say function, I mean the feeling and the urge itself, so I have no idea when my bladder is full nor can I push it out. Over the years, I went from having a leg bag catheter in the hospital, which stayed in my urethra all the time - to self cathing, which meant having others put a catheter in my urethra every 4-6 hours for me, due to no use of my upper extremities - to having an intense surgery that resulted in a stoma located in my belly, so as a determined quadriplegic I can now catheterize myself, in very limited situations, but at least I don't have to show my private areas to everyone while catheterizing. How I accomplish that task is a remarkable feat that only God can answer.
Along with this topic, comes the loss of my bowel functions. Again, I have no feeling, urge or even cramping to tell me when I need to go nor can I push it out, so I have to use a suppository and digital stimulation. This is one of the most difficult parts of my injury. As a young woman, I cried daily during this procedure and I'm not sure if I'll ever feel comfortable with it. It’s been nearly 16 years and I'm still grieving over this entire loss.
If someone would have told me that I would become a quadriplegic at the age of 24, due to a drunk driving accident, I would have been devastated. I would have rather died. Like I stated on Today TMJ-4's, The Morning Blend, last week…I can pretty this up (pointing at myself in my wheelchair) all day long, put make-up on, curl my hair, dress fashionably and put a big smile on, but nothing changes or lightens the extent of my injury; the major medical issues over the years that have attempted to take my life more times than I can even count; the medical bills that my offender does not take responsibility for; the loss me, my family and the community endured; the list goes on and on. Take my word for it - it sucks being a quadriplegic and I wouldn't wish this life upon my worst enemy.
When is enough...enough?
It was difficult to fathom and understand how my offender could watch me struggle and fight for my life, day in and day out and yet continued getting behind the wheel intoxicated. No one is saying you can’t drink and drinking alcohol is not against the law nor is the law taking action to ban our rights to use it, but driving while under the influence of any drug or alcohol is against the law. Once those drugs and alcohol are in your system it's too late. You are too impaired to make any logical decisions. The next time you decide to get behind the wheel while intoxicated (drugged up) be prepared for the consequences, because eventually, your luck will run out.
WE ARE NOT GOD! We do not have the right to alter or take someone else's life. Drinking (drugging) and driving is equivalent to putting a loaded gun in the hands of a 2 year old and praying they don't pull the trigger. It's as simple as that!!
Did you know this little known Drunk Driving fact?
Many people believe that New Year's Eve is the night when the most drunken driving accidents occur but they are wrong; New Year's Eve runs a distant second to the holiday that statistically has the largest number of drunken driving fatalities—Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy with family and to build happy memories for years to come. Think twice before drinking and driving this holiday season and give thanks for the health of those you care about.
Please take my story seriously and save a life. Be responsible. Don't drink and drive!
Check out these alarming statistics (MADD):
~ One person is killed every half-hour due to drunk driving
~ Each year approximately 16,000 are killed in alcohol related crashes
~ Every 90 seconds, someone is injured because of this entirely preventable crime.
~ About 1/3 of the drunk driving problem – arrests, crashes, deaths, and injuries – comes from repeat offenders.
~ At any given point, we potentially share the roads with 2 million people with three or more drunken driving offenses.
Check out my interview with The Morning Blend Host's, Molly Fay & Tiffany Ogle.
Muskego Patch articles referenced:
"Drunk Driver Hits Teen Head On..." http://muskego.patch.com/articles/drunk-driver-hits-teen-head-on-police-parents-say-think-before-you-drink?ncid=newsltuspatc00000001
"Man Drives High on Drugs with 2 year old in the Back Seat"