A couple of days ago I got a text message from a friend asking if I’d seen his Facebook post.
No, but it didn’t take long to find which one he was talking about!

“Feeling bruised sore but VERY VERY THANKFUL!!!!” said the first post, and after that he had shared an explanation from his wife. Part of it reads, “our Prado was hit by a drunk driver as we drove through Mangaweka causing it to 360 roll, coming to a stop in front of oncoming traffic”.

After chatting via text I found out how extremely lucky they, and their three children, were to be alive. The offending driver was three times over the legal limit and on drugs. He was also driving while disqualified, something he had been jailed for twice before.

The drunk driver didn’t have a scratch on him, and thankfully the worst injury in my friend’s family was a broken leg. Their son will have to spend his thirteenth birthday in a full leg cast.

The whole situation makes me both thankful and extremely angry.

How was this man able to get behind the wheel drunk? Again, and again? And will anything of consequence happen this time?

According to our NZ law, if you “are convicted of a third or subsequent offence, you will be
disqualified from driving for more than 1 year and either fined up to $6000 or imprisoned for up to 2 years.”
Futher, “If you cause injury or death when driving carelessly while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you will be disqualified and either fined up to $10,000 or sentenced to prison. Where a breath or blood test shows you were over the legal limit or shows evidence of the use of a controlled drug, you will be disqualified and either fined up to $20,000 or imprisoned for up to 5 years.” More here.

Already there are devices to stop you being able to drive if you are over the limit. A quick google check says we have this in New Zealand. I wonder how many people actually have them installed.

I like the idea of your licence and car working together in future, using the barcode on your driver’s licence to give the ok for a car to start. This could potentially be good for stopping those without licences, thieves without permission, and learners without supervisors.
Car companies – please start working on this.

But what can we do?
For a start, we can re-educate our family, friends, and the next generation.
When many of us get behind the wheel, we only think of our own driving, without considering that others could be affected by our choices.

I fear our drink driving issues won’t be resolved until our drinking culture is. Something that is a long way off from being healthy.

Please, please be careful on the roads. And don’t ever drink and drive.

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