Drunk Driving Facts and Faces: A Drunk Driving Infographic
Drunk driving is indefensible. There’s really not a lot else that you can say about it. Driving drunk is an activity that should never be undertaken by anyone anywhere under any circumstances. There are no excuses. It’s an activity reserved for the grossly irresponsible, and each and every death and injury that results from drunk driving is hopelessly preventable. Despite this, about 30 percent of all fatalities on roadways are the direct result of impaired driving. In 2012, more than 10,000 people died in drunk driving incidents. That’s an average of one person dead every 51 minutes, and for no good reason.
We here at The News Wheel have put together the following drunk driving infographic, which compiles some pretty startling statistics.
Some more bits of information to chew on:
- More than half of the 226 children killed in drunk driving crashes in 2011 were riding with an inebriated driver (Source: MADD)
- 1.4 million drunk driving arrests in 2010 represented about 1 percent of all self-reported instances of drunk driving among U.S. adults (Source: CDC)
- The rate of drunk driving deaths per 100,000 people is around 3.3; in 1991, the rate of drunk driving deaths per 100,000 people was 6.3 (Source: Responsibility.org)
- If you operate a vehicle while intoxicated, you are an inexcusable moron of the highest order (Source: Logic)
Real Faces of Drunk Driving
If you’ll permit me, I’d like to think locally for a moment here. Ohio has, to a certain extent, attempted to Scarlet Letter drunk drivers with yellow license plates that make past offenders easier to identify on roads. The state has also created a habitual OVI offender registry that allows residents to see how many people in their area have been convicted of more than five DUIs. Based on that registry, the yellow plates ain’t quite cutting it: in this county alone, there are entries for 232 people who have been caught driving drunk more than five times.
The directory reads like a who’s-who of people clearly unsatisfied with living a life where they are not directly responsible for someone’s death. Here are some special cases I came across in my neighborhood alone:
- Donna May, who has 9 OVIs since 1995 and managed to be convicted twice in one day
- Ricky Deal, who accomplished the same feat of two convictions in the same day while also pulling down three of his eight OVIs in a three month span from August-October 2007
- Tim Holmes, who received two of his eight OVIs on two consecutive days, and his next two (though still somehow not his most recent two) exactly a year apart
- Ohio’s own version of the Koch brothers—Frank and John—who have 14 OVIs between them
Let’s go back to that first case I mentioned—Donna May. May was observed driving erratically by a police officer three years ago Thursday. She was stopped after she rolled halfway through a stop sign and obstructed traffic, then crossed the center line three times. After being stopped, May exacerbated the situation when she treated the policewoman to a litany of obscenities and verbal abuse. When placed under arrest, May spit on one of the arresting officers, forcing them to put a spit hood on her.
Worth mentioning: May’s toddler was in the car with her at the time.
At her trial, May’s sole defense was a former boyfriend and father of some of her children, who actually did little defending whatsoever in admitting that May was verbally abusive when drunk and that he had been aware of multiple occasions where she had driven under the influence.
May was convicted in August 2012 for OVI, harassment with bodily substance, and child endangerment and was sentenced to five years in prison, a $1,500 fine, and a 20-year license suspension.
May appealed on that counts that—among other things—her trial was hamstringed by her counsel merely mentioning the fact that she had a prior offense (never mind eight), the fact that she was also on a prescription drug at the time, and that her spit was harmless and protected by her First Amendment rights. Her sentence was ultimately reduced to three years.
May never attempted to refute the fact that she put her child in danger.
Then there’s Ricky Deal, who was convicted of OVI, Tampering with Evidence, and Identity Fraud after an April 2011 stop where he identified himself as his brother Larry.
Reason being? Larry Deal had an otherwise spotless driving record whereas Ricky had seven prior OVI convictions.
He, too, attempted to appeal his conviction on the grounds that the jury had not given him a fair trial, arguing that the State prosecutor’s closing argument suggested that Deal was lying and thusly swayed the jury to convict him.
He also claimed that he had failed the two field sobriety tests administered by the officer because “it was windy.”
He attempted to make the case that—despite reeking of alcohol, failing two field sobriety tests, refusing a third, admitting to the officer that he had been drinking, and having a half-empty bottle of whiskey on the passenger side floor—there was insufficient evidence to his intoxication.
Also, he had pissed himself when the officer stopped him.
His six-year prison sentence stuck, even after Deal was able to convince a friend, Lee Ann Ewing, to testify on his behalf that he had only had one beer, didn’t seem drunk, and definitely didn’t piss his pants.
Deal, in order to save himself from having to take responsibility for his actions, showed that he was willing not only to get an acquaintance to probably perjure herself on his behalf, but that he was willing to let his own brother take the fall for his idiocy.
Donna May and Ricky Deal are microcosms for multiple OVI/DUI/DWI offenders everywhere: exasperatingly defiant, refusing to ever accept any kind of responsibility, and willing to put others in compromising positions in order to sustain themselves.
Despite mountains of evidence suggesting that they would only continue to drive under the influence, neither May or Deals received lifetime driving bans. When they get out of prison, you can bet that it will only be a matter of time before they’re behind the wheel again. Because, inexplicably, people in their lives will likely only continue to enable them. Because, clearly, neither have learned their lesson. Because, sadly, they likely won’t learn the full brunt of their lesson until someone ends up getting seriously hurt or dying.