Whenever a celebrity gets a DUI the first reaction from the general public usually revolves around the possible video. Next comes the spin and ultimately the judgment from everyone involved. This process is the same for the regular Joe, however it doesn’t require many articles in USA Today like Reese Witherspoon’s recent disorderly conduct and husband’s DUI did. The same happens for professional athletes and the reaction is also very similar. The crime itself dictates this and there is a reason. The behavior behind a DUI is relatively accepted by those in a drinking lifestyle…until that person gets a DUI. What needs to change is our focus on the behavior itself and maybe a little education before the fact.
It is somewhat surprising to learn that many people do not know how long alcohol stays in your system (one drink can take up to 3 hours to leave). Most people that I have come across think that when you go to sleep and wake up, outside of the hangover, you are good to go. What they don’t know is that many DUI’s happen the following morning due to the length of time it takes for alcohol to leave the system. Also, having two drinks in the span of an hour without waiting to drive home is easily grounds for DUI for some people, as a standard bottle of beer can equal .02 or above for a BAC, or blood alcohol content. Two drinks and then driving home may cause a .05 on a breathalyzer and a DUI or driving while impaired in some states.
State variance is another thing that people do not consider. Colorado and Florida, the two states I have lived in most recently, have very tough DUI laws and punishment. In Colorado, a .08 or above can get someone community service, loss of license, an interlock device installed in their car and DUI classes for up to 33 weeks at two hours a session. Jail time is also considered and the higher a person’s BAC, the more severe the consequences. That almost always gets worse with multiple offenses.
So how does someone fall into the more severe category? The consistency of drinking is a major factor. Tolerance builds up over time, so many people that consider alcohol a part of their life report not feeling impaired before they make the “decision” to drive. There is a piece of that which may be true. However, when discussing tolerance, the idea that a problem with the drinking could be developing may be approached. That is when defensiveness and judgment begins and the discussion usually stops.
This discussion needs to continue. We are inundated as a society with all the wonderful things that supposedly happen when we drink, while the consequences are swept under the rug. I have no idea if there is an alcohol problem surfacing with Ms. Witherspoon or her husband, however that is a far more important issue overall than the hit Mud may take from this incident.
If you or someone you know drinks and drives they are taking a chance every time they get behind the wheel and hopefully the question that is asked is “why am I doing this?” Instead the question usually asked is “what is the best back road to take?” Until the dialogue changes this will continue to be a major problem with thousands of unnecessary deaths.