What Are Drunk Drivers Really Thinking?Confessions of a Drunk Driver...
February 15, 2007 2:50am CST
When we hear of incidents where unsuspecting motorists in the wrong place at the wrong time are victims of someone's irresponsible and deadly decision to drive drunk, it incites sorrow and anger in us. Sometimes a whole family is wiped out at once, while the perpetrating drunk walks away with barely a scratch. How much of in injustice is this? We want stiff penalties for such senseless and atrocious offenses, rightfully so. Well, who are these offenders? Are they mean and dangerous people who don't care if they kill others? Sometimes. But a lot of the time they are people just like anyone else, minus one monumental defect: extreme self-absorption. I spent 12 years as a desperate and miserable alcoholic, 8 of those years as a driver, and will reveal here my past shameful experience as a regular drunk driver. There are questions reasonable people would want a drunk driver to answer. I will do my best to answer them and offer insight into the mind of someone who has made this bad decision repeatedly. 1. How did it ever come to be that you thought it was okay to get behind the wheel in this condition and endanger lives? I never thought drunk driving was okay when I was sober, only when I was drunk. At those times I only cared about the fact that I wanted to get from point A to point B. I didn't want to surrender my car and my perceived control, or be at the mercy of anyone else. I say perceived control because when drunk it can feel like you are totally in control, when in fact that could not be further from the truth. The reasoning ability I'd have before would be compromised more with each drink. How many DWIs have you gotten and how many accidents have you been involved in? In all the years and times I drove drunk, somehow I never had an accident and never got a DWI. There were two different times that I was pulled over extremely drunk, minutes after leaving the bar at closing time. One of the times I was going 75 in a 45mph zone. The officer wrote me a ticket, but never even questioned whether or not I had been drinking, even though I had been--for more than 7 hours. Another time I was pulled over drunk, I had been having a hard time keeping my eyes open. I already had to drive with one eye open, and I was of course speeding. I had expired inspection and registration stickers, no insurance and was extremely intoxicated after hours of drinking. This time an officer let me off with a warning for all my violations, and did not even ask me if I'd been drinking. In both instances I would have flunked a field sobriety test miserably. There were also countless times where I drove from one location to the other with no recollection of doing so. I don't know how I did not kill someone or myself, or get any DWIs. I don't know what would have changed if those things had happened. I was a pretty hopeless case during those years. It seems that in this lifestyle, a pattern of behavior emerges. Why then couldn't you predict future behavior based on past behavior, and make adjustments accordingly? Couldn't you, when sober, have planned for the fact ahead of time that you would be drunk at the end of the night and believe you could drive since that's what always happened before? This is where the extreme self-absorption comes into play. When someone is deep in the throws of alcoholism, so much of their physiology is damaged. People in this condition function as someone 15-20 years younger than their age. They throw temper tantrums when they don't get their way, they screw over people they love without even blinking and the only thing that matters to them is making each of their moments as tolerable as possible. This is where I was during these years. Nothing in my thought process was ever about doing what would be best for someone else. If it infringed even slightly on my selfish agenda, it was not up for consideration. People don't realize how much alcoholism attacks the very character and value of a person. It makes them nothing more than a burden to those around them, and a menace to society. I am so ashamed that I behaved this way for so long. It is not who I was before, and not who I am today. Now that you have children, how hard has it been to reconcile that for years you put other people's children in danger on a regular basis? Today I have been sober for 7 years, and it is painful to remember the things I did before. Much of the time I do not like to be out at night, especially not with my family in the car, because I know there are "old me"s out there. I am afraid for my family to drive out of town for a trip. I imagine the scenario of us, this family minding our own business, getting destroyed out of nowhere by some irresponsible idiot. I think of the rage I would have if one of those people caused me to lose one of my most valued treasures, and what I would want to do to them. Every time I see this happen to someone else, my blood starts to boil, and I feel hatred for the drunk driver. Then I remember that I used to be one of them, and that the only difference between them and me is that I just happen to never hit anyone. Perhaps as long as there is alcoholism, there will be drunk driving. And as long as there is drunk driving, innocent people will die. It's hard to implement a program that makes changes to a person's heart. That's what ultimately led to my transformation and brought an end to this destructive behavior. Nothing short of a miracle made me stop being what I was. I was so enslaved to this stronghold that it felt impossible to ever do anything different. I am so glad that was a lie and that I can live. There are never any excuses for driving drunk. It doesn't make sense to so many of us. That is because it is senseless. At least with my change there is one fewer drunk driver out there. Here's to hoping many more will make the same changes, and escape this insane way of life without killing someone.
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