Would You Turn In Your Dad for Drunk Driving?

turn-in-dad-for-drunk-drivingTwo kids, a 12-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl, were riding in the back seat of their car in Kearney, Nebraska when the noticed the driver – their father – swerving on the road.  Panicked, the girl texted 911 and asked for help.

Help arrived, in the form of a police officer who caught up with the car. The father, it turned out, had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of. 08 of .224, almost three times the legal limit.

In a way, the arrest was fortunate. At that alcohol level, a person behind the wheel is incredibly dangerous.

  • Attention and focus are severely diminished
  • Muscle control, and hence vehicle control, is poor
  • Sight and hearing are both impaired
  • Reaction times are much, much slower, making it unlikely he could brake in time if he needed to
  • He would have a hard time managing multiple tasks – watching speed while staying in the right lane or reading road signs.
  • Nausea could occur

All of these conditions greatly increase the risk of a crash. So the girl did the right thing.

We’re living in a time when the social pressure not to drink and drive is fairly powerful. A 13-year-old has probably encountered messages about drunk driving already, and chances are good that it would not be regarded as cool, as it might have been in the past. There were no cellphones in the 1950s, but even if there were, it’s doubtful a child would enough of a perspective on drunk driving to know that they need to be turned in right away. Such awareness came gradually, as a result of campaigns by road safety organizations, which have over decades changed drunk driving from a party joke to a crime.

So sad as it is for a child to have to drop a dime on a parent, it was the right thing to do, and they both are the better for it. She and her brother were rescued before harm could come to them, and the driver might have a chance to straighten out his life.

Nebraska mandates ignition interlocks – devices which prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking – for all DUI offenses. The state also requires alcohol assessment and, when applicable, attendance in an alcohol treatment program.

The message is getting through to the kids. Let’s hope it gets through to more parents as well.