One wrong choice determines your life

For college students across the country, spring break is fast approaching. For some of us, it cannot come fast enough. With spring break comes all the staples: going to the beach, trips to the cities, and for some, alcohol consumption. 

The combination of alcohol and travel is a particularly dangerous one, having claimed the lives of 1,029 Texans across 25,261 drunk-driving crashes in 2021 alone, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. That is one DWI related death every 8.5 hours. These incidents peak during holiday season and break periods, such as spring break and Memorial Day weekend. Only a few months ago, in November 2022, Corpus Christi saw two deaths during a drunken driving incident on the Harbor Bridge. 

Not drinking responsibly and driving under the influence can have dire consequences beyond threat to life and limb. In Texas, someone charged with driving while intoxicated may be fined up to $2,000 for a first-time offense and spend a minimum of three days in jail with a maximum sentence of 180 days, and they will have their license suspended for up to a year.

To avoid putting the safety of yourself and others at risk, and to avoid the possibility of spending your summer vacation in a jail cell, you should consider adding transportation solutions to your spring break plans.

A common, reliable solution when going out with a group is the designated driver. In the case this term is new to some readers, a designated driver is a member of the group who abstains from consuming alcohol, so they remain sober to transport their mates safely home after they are thoroughly inebriated. 

Assigning a designated driver ensures everyone gets home while avoiding the risks of using third-party services such as Uber, Lyft or a taxi. The dangers of being in an intoxicated state while alone with a complete stranger should be obvious. Some ride-share services have also begun to implement systems that inform the app of signs that the would-be-rider is in an “unusual state,” such as struggling to type their information accurately or holding their phone at weird angles. This allows drivers to simply avoid giving rides to intoxicated passengers if they choose to. As a result, it is entirely possible that you will not be able to find a driver to take you home.

If you and your mates intend to go on a pub-crawl this spring break, it is recommended that the designated driver be assigned when initially making plans. This ensures that the responsibility is not placed on someone unexpectedly and decreases the chances of the designated driver breaking rank and drinking. The designated driver can also be a person separate from the group, who will come to pick everyone up when called, but will not stay at the bar themselves.

Another way to minimize the chances of a DWI incident, done in conjunction with having a designated driver, is for the group to arrive and leave in one vehicle. While it may be frustrating for some in the group, giving the designated driver a monopoly on the group’s transportation avoids the risk of one or more members of the group attempting to take their own vehicle home or having to leave their vehicle in the parking lot overnight. Giving up your travel independence for one night of revelry is preferable to ending up mangled in the ER or taking an early trip to the morgue.

If you intend to go out drinking alone, or as a pair, then having someone else drive you to and from is the best option. As with drinking in a group, the designated driver should be assigned and informed before you go out drinking, so that they know what to expect and to be prepared. No one wants to be unexpectedly woken up by a drunken phone call at 3 a.m.

In the end, everyone at Del Mar wants everyone to come back safely after spring break. If you don’t choose to have a designated driver for yourself, then do it for the friends you are going out with. Do it for your parents, your siblings and your children. Do it for the classmates who will sit by your empty desk in class, a grim memorial to the tragedy of your bad decisions. Do it for the friends, families, and classmates of the people in cars and pedestrians around you. It’s a small decision that will make all the difference in whether you, and others, ever come back to Del Mar.

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