A Sobering Message About Drinking and Driving
Every year in the run-up to the Holiday Season, we tend to go to more parties, social events, and festive gatherings to share food and drinks with co-workers, family, and friends. Unfortunately, this increase in social activity is often connected with a rise in alcohol- and drug-related accidents, especially associated with driving.
Since the Holiday Season typically has a higher rate of motor vehicle accidents, we thought this would be a great opportunity to do our part to bring more awareness to the cause.
We all understand the risks associated with impaired driving. We know that by driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs we can endanger not only ourselves, but others as well. Where most people tend to make mistakes—and we speak from personal experience, as you will read further on—is in their interpretation of what constitutes impaired driving, and where the line ought to be drawn.
For example, if you live in the West Island suburbs and you’re planning to attend your office Christmas party at a downtown convention centre or hotel, you will most likely plan to avoid any risks. These parties can go on for hours and it’s easy to find ourselves having a few more drinks than we thought we would, so we do the responsible thing and either hire a cab or a ride-sharing service, or perhaps get a room at a hotel to avoid the late-night drive home.
However, not every social evening is a big party, and it’s often at the smaller, more casual events where we find ourselves rationalizing an excuse to bend our own rules. Suppose you’re invited out to dinner at a restaurant only a few blocks from home, just you and your spouse. It’s nights like these when we’ll say to ourselves: “I’ll be okay to drive. It’s barely 10 minutes away and I’ll have only a glass or two of wine… I’ll be fine.” But the two glasses of wine turn into three or four, and then you all end up ordering an alcoholic “digestif” at the end of the meal to top off the evening.
After this enjoyable night out, you and your spouse hop into your car to head home, without a worry or care in the world. Although you feel perfectly fine to drive, your blood alcohol level is above the legal limit. As you turn a corner, not five minutes from home, your heart sinks as you notice the flashing lights. It’s a police roadblock. As you inch forward, your heart pounds as you contemplate the potential consequences of your actions. When you finally stop, the highly trained screening officer instructs you to lower your window and proceeds to ask you a series of questions, looking for any subtle signs of impairment. If they detect that you’re nervous, that you’re stuttering or slurring your words, that you’re hesitating with your answers, or that there is any odour of alcohol or drugs on your breath or in the car, they will ask you to pull over and breath-test you. Before you know it, you’re facing a criminal record for impaired driving, the immediate impoundment of your vehicle and suspension of your driver’s licence, and thousands of dollars in related fines and costs. All that when you could have taken a $30 taxi ride instead!
This happens far more frequently than most of us realize, and when it does, most people are too ashamed and embarrassed to admit it. Being charged with and convicted of impaired driving is a devastating and humbling experience that few people want to talk about, let alone share publicly.
In 2017, Mark went through this experience first-hand. He never felt he was being reckless. He didn’t get into an accident, injure anybody, or damage property… but he was convicted of impaired driving after being stopped at a police roadblock, having had “one too many” drinks during a casual night out with friends.
Mark quickly realized that he had made a grave mistake. Not only had he done it once, but he had done it many times before. In fact, it’s estimated that a drunk driver will drive 80 times while under the influence before their first arrest. That is a sobering statistic.
Following Mark’s impaired driving conviction, he decided to make some serious changes to his lifestyle. He began an intense fitness regimen, took up running, obstacle-course racing, started a meditation practice, and gave up drinking alcohol entirely. Mark has been alcohol-free since October 2018, just over five years now.
Rather than allowing that shameful experience to define him, Mark has chosen to use it to his advantage. It led him to a path of personal transformation, and it has empowered him to find the courage to speak out against the dangers and risks associated with impaired driving. His message is this: “No matter how much or how little alcohol you drink, any amount is too much. If you’re going to drink, don’t drive. PERIOD. It’s simply not worth the risk.”
Lastly, it’s important to remind everyone that we have many great options available to us in this city that ought to prevent us from driving under the influence. Not only do we have taxis and ride-share services such as Uber, but we also have Point Zero 8, a paid, membership-based service that drives you and your vehicle home and that operates year-round. There is also Opération Nez rouge, which offers the same service for free, staffed entirely by volunteers during the Holidays from November 24 to December 31.
With that said, we at Team Broady want to wish everyone a safe and happy Holiday Season!