While this blog often discusses general safety threats and broad statistics, our practice centers on individuals. Each person who calls our Panama City injury law firm has a unique story that has impacted them in a unique way. Where the story involves a fatality, the pain of loss is very real, and it not only impacts the family members who may bring a wrongful death claim, but it leaves a hole in the community and changes the lives of countless others. We often wonder, if people could see the real individuals that would be impacted by their choices, would they still make dangerous choices? Would people drive drunk if they saw the families left mourning a drunk driving death?
WMBB carried a poignant story this week of a mother who has taken a tragedy and is using it to help others from suffering the same fate, with help from a surprising ally. On May 11, 2012, a 24-year-old was driving drunk in Pensacola Beach when he crashed into another car. Both of the people in the other vehicle were killed. A court sentenced the drunk driver to a 22-year prison term on DUI manslaughter charges.
Beginning a mere two years after her loss, the mother of one of the victims is speaking about her daughter's life and sudden death in an effort to promote sober driving. She is joined in this effort, which is focused on teens and recently included a visit to Port St Joe High School, by the drunk driver himself. Although he is still serving his sentence, the driver has joined his victim's mother and is talking to young people at schools, churches, and military institutions across the country about the consequences of driving drunk. The mother says she has forgiven the drunk driver. In their presentations, she emphasizes that going to a good school or coming from a good family does not make a difference; the young people could face a fate similar to the convict's (including both the sentence and the guilt) if they choose to drive impaired.
While each person is different, the Center for Disease Control ("CDC") provides a chart detailing the typical impact of alcohol in general and specifically on the ability to drive. At only 0.02%, judgment loss occurs and driving ability is compromised by a decline in visual function and the ability to multitask. As BAC rises to 0.05%, coordination suffers and the ability to respond to emergency situations declines. These impairments arise well before the 0.08% blood alcohol limit for drivers in all 50 states. More alcohol leads to decreased concentration, the inability to focus on driving, difficulty maintaining lane position, and a general loss of the ability to control the vehicle. In physical terms, memory suffers, reactions times slow, thinking is impaired, and concentration is diminished.
Ultimately, alcohol is particularly dangerous because at the same moment it causes impairment, it also blinds the individual to these very effects. This is why it is important to hammer home the message about drunk driving until it is automatic, until driving impaired isn't an option. No one is an exception.
We hope that one day drunk driving will be a terrible memory. For now, we'll continue to share the message about the dangers of drunk driving and continue to represent the victims of Northwest Florida crashes. Call if our Panama City car accident attorney can help you and your family in a personal injury or wrongful death matter.