Drunk driving getting close to home

 Columnist Katie Haga 

Columnist Katie Haga 

The minute a friend leaves to go out for the night, it becomes routine to say, ‘“don’t drink and drive.” It’s almost like an instinct to remind them not to do anything dumb. Although we know, or at least hope, they wouldn’t be as stupid as to get behind the wheel after they’d been drinking – but unfortunately that’s not the case for some people. 

Several new stories surface daily if you search ‘drunk driving’ on the internet. Headlines pop up saying things like, “man sentenced to jail after killing three people in deadly crash” or “fatal DUI crash causes deaths of an entire family.” Stories of drunk drivers have become so familiar that when a new one arises we are hardly phased by it.

The sad reality is that every 51 minutes in America, a drunk driver kills someone accidentally. That amounts to about 28 people every day and 10,220 people a year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

These staggering statistics should make the public angry, not just brush it off their shoulders. Drunk driving is something you can prevent. People can save thousands of lives annually if they would stop making such reckless decisions.

Within the last few months, drunk driving related accidents have really hit close to home here in Rohnert Park. A drunk driver struck and killed a 23-year-old motorcyclist on Snyder Lane in August. The driver, 63-year-old Robert Bosch, had a blood alcohol level of 0.26, which is three times more than the legal limit, according to the Press Democrat.

More recently there was the accident that involved one of our fellow Seawolves, Paulette Geronimo Quiba. A man struck her vehicle head on while he was illegally passing over the double yellow lines while intoxicated.

The 35-year-old driver had been convicted of drunk driving before, and after this incident they charged him with murder, according to the Press Democrat. 

Our entire Seawolf community is heartbroken by this tragedy, myself included. In this time of grieving, my heart goes out to the family and friends of Paulette Geronimo Quiba. May no other family have to experience this kind of loss again.

We have obtained copious amounts of information about drunk driving starting at a very young age. Teachers introduce many students to programs to discuss drunk driving and preventing it as soon as junior high, some even starting in elementary school. 

One large program is Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The purpose of this specific program is to teach teenagers the dangers of driving drunk as well as offering up solutions. 

When the program began in 1980, there were more deaths caused by drunk drivers than the number of people who died in war, according to madd.org. 

Their purpose is to fight for stronger laws on driving under the influence so they can finally reach their goal of zero; zero deaths, zero injuries and zero families impacted by drunk driving. 

I understand that everyone has had their share of embarrassing stories when they’re intoxicated, whether it be a drunken hookup or the sloppy, misspelled text you send to your ex, or even a wardrobe malfunction. 

There’s always a situation that alcohol can make way worse, but driving should not be one of those situations. 

Despite all the other mistakes you can make while intoxicated, driving while under the influence is inexcusable.