With ACU’s alcohol policy change in full swing, alcohol consumption seems to have taken a backseat to other issues for the first time in months. But, at 1:25 a.m. Friday, the Abilene Police Department recorded Abilene’s 525th DWI since Jan. 1.
That accounts for at least one DWI per day since New Year’s Eve.
Granted, most offenses likely occur on weekends when alcohol consumption seems a more prevalent issue, but even if there isn’t one every day, that’s still a lot of drunk drivers roving the streets of Abilene, imperiling the lives of everyone else in the community.
Consuming alcohol is legal and arguably biblical – Paul advises Timothy to use the substance to alleviate digestive issues in 1 Timothy. However, drinking and driving is not, and it continues to be an issue worth addressing.
Whether an individual consumes alcohol remains a personal choice. When that individual becomes “hammered,” “tipsy” or even just “buzzed” and chooses to get behind the wheel of a car, he forces his choice on the community.
And whether the driver hits a street sign, drives into someone’s house, hits a pedestrian or crashes into another car, the community pays. We pay in peace of mind, wondering if the oncoming driver’s slightly weaving headlights indicate intoxication. We pay in taxes to repair street signs and light posts. We pay in emotional scars, knowing even quietly tucked into our own homes, serenity can be wrenched away by a vehicle careening through a wall facing the street. Most dearly, we pay in lives.
Without our consent, drunk drivers exact payment for their actions, even when divine intervention or sheer luck guides them without mishap safely to their destination.
But drinking and driving when one has been drinking already becomes more complicated than a simple will or won’t decision. Alcohol impairs judgment and mental faculties. That’s just basic alcohol education. By the time some get behind the wheel, their ability to wisely choose against endangering themselves or their neighbors is gone.
When we plan a vacation, usually we plan, or at least keep in mind, ways to get home, whether by plane, train or automobile – or good, old-fashioned walking. In the same vein, planning an exit strategy should be a normal extension of planning to attend a function at which alcohol may be present.
So plan ahead. If we have the presence of mind to decide to attend a party, we should have the presence of mind to designate a driver. Remember, it is your life. But when you drink and drive, it might also be mine.