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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Designated Driver

We had a great, very relaxing weekend- with one exception.
We got there at about 7:30 Friday night. I made dinner for the husband and my father. I got a call from a friend of the family who I have known my whole life. She was drunk and giggling. She rattled off a list of the four or five alcoholic beverages she had consumed. She is 23 and obviously still thinks being drunk is "cool". I am not a big drinker. I have 3 MAYBE 4 drinks a year. (although, after trying a raspberry Smirnoff Ice last night that might change.)
So, when she asked if me and the husband wanted to meet her at a bar my first question was "how are you getting there?"
She told me that she had a bunch of friends with her and that one of them was the designated driver.
We agreed to meet her. When we got there she was adding a glass of wine to her long list of drinks. She was also acting drunk, but not in a good way. At one point one of her friends who I had never met before was asking the husband and I what it was like to have Dexter in the city (because she was thinking of getting a dog). My friend drunkenly attempted to "make fun of me" by saying "are you talking about your animals AGAIN?"
I replied that I was just trying to answer someone's question.
She wasn't being a fun drunk she was being an annoying drunk, and you could tell that she was making people feel awkward.
We were all pretty tired and everyone decided to leave at about 11pm.
I noticed that she was saying goodbye to all of her friends. As in "see you tomorrow!"
I asked how she was getting home.
"I'm driving"
"You can't drive, you've been drinking"
"Torrie, I drove here"
"WHAT? You've been drinking. Please let me drive you home"(neither the husband, nor I had a sip of alcohol and we were staying a block from her house)
"Torrie, I'm fine"
We went back and forth like this for a few minutes. It was a horribly awkward situation because we were with all of these people we had never met before.
She was acting like I was being annoying. You know, because, like, drinking and driving is "cool". Everyone does it!
Even her parents, who are both alcoholics.
I stopped short of ripping the keys out of her hands.

She drove home.

It made me incredibly sad and angry. What was I supposed to do? Should I have wrestled her for the keys in front of all of these strangers?

I thought she was a better person than that. I thought she was smarter than that.
It was so disappointing.

There is no excuse for driving drunk. I won't even have one drink and then drive.
Driving is dangerous enough, even without alcohol involved.
If you know you are going to be driving then you shouldn't drink. End of story.
Does alcohol really taste so good that you need to risk your lives and the lives of others?

My favorite excuses are "I'm fine!" or "I'm only driving a short distance"(did you know that most accidents happen within 1 mile of a person's home?) or "I'm a good driver" or "I do it all of the time".
Couples go out all of the time and share a bottle of wine and then drive home. It's WRONG. It is arrogant.
I don't get it. If you drive somewhere, then why would you even start drinking in the first place?

When we were about 19 I found out that my oldest friend had gone out drinking and then drove home. We got into a huge fight over it.
She was saying things like "it was only a mile" and "it was late, no one was on the road", and "I didn't want to pay for a cab."
I told her that I felt like I didn't know her anymore and that I couldn't believe what she was saying to me.
I said "don't you get it? That's what all of the drunk drivers who have killed someone said to themselves when they got in their cars."
I hung up on her. I thought our friendship was over.
She called back later hysterically crying,apologizing, and saying that she realized the severity of what she had done.
She's never done it again.

It happens all of the time. Men do it, Woman do it. 19 Year olds do it. 69 year olds do it. Educated people do it. Uneducated people do it.
Some people do it "just this once" and some people do it every day.
Some people do it because of peer pressure. Some people do it because they think "it will never happen to me"

Tell that to the parents who lost their child because you just couldn't say no to that round of shots, or you didn't want to pay for a cab.

Please choose to be an intelligent,realistic, free thinking person.


posted by Torrie at Tuesday, July 05, 2005 |


Commented by Blogger Lasadh:

That's so infuriating! >:-(

I'd say that you should at least inform her parents, but if they're alcoholics, it probably won't do much good, even if they tried to lay down the law with her, they probably aren't setting the best examples.

I also get pissed off when I see people holding phones up to their ears while driving. Idiots!

4:33 PM 
Commented by Blogger Caroline:

A friend of my grandparent's had a granddaughter who died last winter because she drove home drunk and sped over an icy patch of road, losing control of the car. Her mom was recently in the hospital after a suicide attempt.

It's not just your life you're putting at stake. It's everyone on the road, your family, your friends, and whoever decides to get into that car with you.

Oooh, makes me so mad.

I think if it were me, I would've wrestled her for the keys, but I tend to be a bit of a bitch about that type of thing. I don't think you did anything wrong by letting her go. It is her decision, albeit a bad one.

4:52 PM 
Commented by Anonymous Laryssa:


5:00 PM 
Commented by Blogger Fuzzball:

I've had way too much experience with this crap. I've known people that died because they were drinking and driving. and I've known people that died because they were HIT by people drinking and driving...

Hindsight is ALWAYS 20/20, sweetie, but next time tackle her to the ground and grab her keys.

5:03 PM 
Commented by Blogger Annejelynn:

amen to you, Torrie and "AMEN" to Fuzzball's comment...If they're worth having as a friend, they'll forgive you for it eventually.

6:49 PM 
Commented by Anonymous sarcastic journalist:

I know too many people that drive home drunk. I want to kick their asses.

Annoying drunks aren't fun. If you're going to be a drunk, you better be a fun one.

6:50 PM 
Commented by Blogger JessicaRabbit:

As a bartender I had to deal with this alot, and yes, I did take peoples keys, and yes I did make them mad, and yes they did argue. It is very easy to end that arguement, say ok I will give you back your keys, and then I will call the police and they can come give you a breathalizer test.

They never want their keys back then. And yes, I have called the police on people who were too drunk and had no business behind a wheel. Even when I just danced,and they would say, why do you care? And I would say because my kids are in a car right now driving with my husband to pick me up from work.

Its awful when its someone who is a friend, but its just as ackward when its a stranger. I have had people thank me after they sobered up, and people who always stayed mad at me, but hey at least they were alive to be pissed.

It took me alittle while to reach the point where I would do it, but after working in a bar and seeing people stumble in already drunk, pass out behind the wheel of their car in the parking lot with it still running, and get violent about driving anyways, fuck em, call the cops.

6:53 PM 
Commented by Blogger Torrie:

I thought about calling the police. I thought it might teach her and her parents a lesson.
I can't believe I pussied out. very unlike me.

7:04 PM 
Commented by Blogger Spurious Plum:


7:06 PM 
Commented by Blogger mrtl:

Great post, Torrie. You rock!

10:17 PM 
Commented by Blogger KGrams:

AMEN!!! My Ex-Husband is an alcoholic and I lived in fear many nights that he would come home drunk and kill himself or some poor innocent person. There was one night that my son (he was almost 2 at the time) and I were with him and he wanted to drive home drunk. I started a huge fight with him and 2 guys wrestled him down to get his keys from him for me. I will always be thankful to them for helping me. Alcohol definitely impairs a person's thinking ability and apparently also makes them feel invincible. I hope she calls you with an apology and a promise never to be stupid again!

10:41 PM 
Commented by Blogger FutureFoodTVStar:

Tomorrow is my cousin's wedding. It will be a glorius event. An event that we are so lucky to get to share.

Saturday night the sister of the groom was headed to meet the groom and the best man at the movie theater. She was the 1st of two cars that were totalled after being hit by a drunk driver.

The 2nd car, the driver has a broken collar bone. The drunk driver, had to have his leg amputated to even get him out of the car so they could lifeflight him to the hospital.

The sister of the groom walked away with some scratches and some shattered glass in her left arm. We are so lucky.

Please dont drink and drive. I have lost too many people in my life to alcohol and almost lost another two days ago. It's not worth it.

12:46 AM 
Commented by Blogger Bente:

Well said Torrie. I totally agree with you on this one. I also don't even have so much as one drink when I'm driving, I just don't see the point.

3:02 AM 
Commented by Blogger Nilbo:

Part of the problem is that alcohol impairs judgement, including the judgement you use to determine whether "I'm OK" or "It's not worth calling a cab, for God's sake".

It's too late to take any action in this case, but here's a handy little analogy to help you decide what to do next time this crops up:

If your friend had been standing on a bridge, trying to decide whether to jump ... you would not have hesitated to tackle her if pleading with her didn't work. If she had been idly spinning the chamber of a gun, deciding whether or not to play some Russian Roulette ... you'd have not hesitated to intervene physically.

If she had been at the entrance to the bar, flicking a lighter with a gas can in her hand, you'd have stepped up.

Statistically and in every other way, drunk driving is worse.

I'm not big on calling the cops just to "teach someone a lesson", simply because by the time the cops arrive, they may be needed to inform some family their child has been run over and killed by a drunk. Used as a threat, the way Jess suggests, is better ... but the goal is to get the keys out of their hand any way you can.

And if you lose a friend over it, that's a shame. But that's on them, not you. If your friend had killed a 12 year old kid out walking the family dog, you'd have spent a lifetime knowing you could have stepped up and didn't.

This is a great post, and your instincts to stop this girl from driving were admirable. And it turned out OK, because she got away with it.

But I'm glad you asked the question "What should I have done ...?"

8:31 AM 
Commented by Blogger Weetzie:

Excellent post and great comments.

9:54 AM 
Commented by Blogger Southern Fried Girl:

Very well written.

10:04 AM 
Commented by Blogger Greenthumb:

That was a tough one...touched a few nerves with me too. well done Torrie. XO

1:57 PM 
Commented by Blogger August95:

Excellent post, great comments. I;m surprised there are people that still think it is ok to drink and drive. Unbelievable.

4:10 PM 
Commented by Blogger Lizard Queen:

I'll have to admit I have driven before after drinking, back when I was young and dumb...but only 2 times...the second time scared me, only wish I would have been scared before I did it...never hit anyone, never got pulled over, but I almost hit a cat...that was enough for me...

Very well written post btw.

4:44 PM 
Commented by Anonymous Grace:

It's scary how many people start their comments with "I know someone who...." You were in a really awkward situation. I like Jess's suggestion of threatening to call the police. Drunk driving makes me so furious. I have a cousin (see, I'm doing it, too), who was a single mom for a few years, finally met the man of her dreams... they got married and he was planning to adopt her little boy -- they dropped off the little boy at a relative's house to go to the movies three weeks after their wedding. Their car was hit by a drunk driver, my cousin's husband was killed instantly. She was in a coma for two weeks. When she woke up, her mother had to tell her her husband had died. The first thing she asked was, "was it my fault?" No, it was some jerk who decided he was okay to drive. The heartbreak that can come from one stupid decision is astounding.

4:53 PM 
Commented by Blogger Annejelynn:

came back to see comments for this one -- good comments

9:49 PM 
Commented by Blogger Whyme:

Great post.

Not much you can do in some ways...some people are just too stupid and do not care about their own personal safety.

I have done it, I admit it. Stupid, scary and over. VERY over. God forbid Torrie find out and go midevil on my ass.

And Raspberry Ice...yum!

11:42 PM 
Commented by Blogger LadyBug:


Very well stated, Torrie. I couldn't agree more. With a husband and father-in-law in law enforcement, I've seen firsthand (well, secondhand, anyway) what drinking and driving can lead to.

I don't know what the "proper" response to your friend would've been. It's easy to say, "You shoule've wrestled the keys from her." or "You should've done whatever it took to keep her from driving drunk!" But...those blanket statements are hard to carry out in a real-life, social setting, with onlookers present. I hope your friend sees the error of her ways. And soon. Like, before she kills somebody's baby. ('Cause everyone is someone's baby.)

11:25 AM 
Commented by Blogger Susie:

Ugh. I agree with your feelings about drunk driving. If it comes to wrestling again, I say go for it. The worst that happens is embarrassment, for both parties. We all survive embarrassment. We don't all survive the alternative. I have had to piss people off, and will again, I'm sure. You have a good gut, Torrie.

2:17 PM 
Commented by Anonymous Flippy:

Send this entry to her, including the comments. When I was in college, our softball team had a party. Unbeknownst to me, but known to her best friend, one of the girls took off in her car, stinking drunk. She ended up running into a van, full of women in a band, on their way home from a gig. She killed two women (one was due to be married in a couple months) and paralyzed another. She was sentenced to eight months in prison. When she got out, she overdosed on an injection of heroin and cocaine, because she couldn't live with what she'd done.

She was a terrific person, but she was an alcoholic. She needed help. She needed someone to take those keys away from her. Next time, please do it...for those us who have regrets about not having the chance to do it. I have very few regrets in my life, but that is one of them, even though I didn't even know she was leaving the party.

6:01 PM 
Commented by Anonymous Julia:

Ugh, next time tackle her. Or get the bar management to do so. It's not about the friend at that point ... it's about the other people she might kill. Driving drunk is like randomly shooting a loaded weapon.

That sucks that your friend put you in that position.

8:53 AM 

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