Recommended reading: an article on the consequences of drunk driving

Here is a link to an excellent article by Marrino Eccher that was published in the Dickinson Press (North Dakota) about the consequences of drunk driving.  Here is an excerpt.  Click on the link to read the whole story:  DUI:  the offenders live with what they’ve done.

Jason Spiess is thankful he only hit a tree.

It was a week before Christmas in 2006. Spiess, a publisher and media personality who now lives in Dickinson, was coming from a friendly business meeting in downtown Fargo where he’d had two beers and three shots in the course of three to four hours. Then he tried to drive home.

It wasn’t the first time he’d driven home after a few drinks. He’d done it when he was younger, and never thought much of it. He’d never had a problem, and he’d never gotten caught.

It was 8:30 p.m. — not yet peak hours for drunken driving, which picks up sharply after midnight. As Spiess drove down Eighth Street, his foot slipped on the pedals. He tried to brake, but instead accelerated, veered from the road and struck a tree.

As soon as it happened, he knew he was in trouble.

“I was freaking out,” he said. “I knew I was drinking.”

He was traveling about 25 mph — not fast enough to damage the tree, but fast enough to trigger the airbags and bang up the front of his car. His judgment impaired, he tried to drive away.

A woman had phoned the police after witnessing the crash. A short while later, on University Drive, Spiess was pulled over, arrested and taken to jail.

His first thought was, “How am I going to explain this to my family?”

Later, another thought crossed his mind that still resonates to this day: “That could’ve been a family. That could’ve been a car. That could’ve been a kid.”

Many people arrested for drunken driving in North Dakota are not much like Spiess. There are repeat offenders with other criminal convictions. There are alcoholics who can’t stop drinking and won’t stop driving. There are people who struggle with drugs as well as alcohol.

But many, many others are not so different: Ordinary, otherwise law-abiding citizens who made a big mistake.

More than three-quarters of the people arrested for DUI in North Dakota are men. The biggest single cohorts are 25- to 29-year-olds, but more than half of arrests are people over 30. Spiess was 32.

About 6 percent of arrests are people too young to drink legally. A few dozen are minors.

Of the 6,600 DUI arrests made last year, 1,871 were repeat offenders. More than 500 had done it more than once before.

A visit to one of Fargo’s victim impact panels, where offenders must listen to the stories of DUI crash survivors and family members who have lost loved ones, turns up a broad cross-section of people, from college students to housewives to gray-haired men.

[A local attorney said::]  “DUI is a unique crime because it requires no ill intent — people don’t think about it beforehand and are in no condition to make good decisions by the time they do it.  Because there’s not a criminal intent requirement, lots of good people find themselves committing crimes.”…

Read the whole article here:


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