Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. But in reality, especially around the holidays, they frequently do, often with tragic results:
Driving under the influence Aggravated DUI: Any amount of alcohol impairment with a child under the age of 15 in the vehicle – four months to two-and-a-half years in jail, license suspended for three years, minimum $2,500 fine.Extreme DUI: Blood alcohol level over 0.15 – 30 days to six months in jail, license suspended for 90 days, $1,500 fine, plus must install and pay for an interlock device on the vehicle.DUI: Blood alcohol level between 0.08 to 0.15 – between one and 10 days in jail, $1,250 fine and license suspended for 90 days and pay for an interlock device on the vehicle. • Lucinda Tomchee drank all evening with a friend, then was so drunk that after she struck and permanently paralyzed Phoenix police officer Keith Young she kept on driving down Chandler Boulevard. When police caught up to her, she literally had to be held up by officers, her blood alcohol level at 0.192.
• Josh Bornstein spent most of the evening drinking at a party, then drove a friend home. On his way back to the party and his girlfriend, he lost control on Ray Road, crashed into a wall and died as his car burned. He had a blood alcohol level of 0.17.
• Mountain Pointe High School senior C.J. Ploog left the prom, changed clothes then went to a party. Returning home from the party he lost control of his car and crashed on 48th Street, killing himself a few weeks before graduation, police say his blood alcohol level was also 0.17.
• On Christmas Eve police say that Christopher Smith got drunk at his parent’s house until he couldn’t tell which side of the road he should drive on, then drove the wrong way on Pecos Road for miles, before plowing into a van, killing one and seriously injuring three others. His blood alcohol level was 0.20, enough to be charged with extreme DUI, except he was booked on one count of murder and three counts of aggravated assault instead.
These, and dozens of other DUI crashes in Ahwatukee Foothills could have been stopped if friends had simply taken the keys away from their drunk friends and called a cab.
“Statistically speaking Ahwatukee is one of the safer places to drive, but we do get our fair share of DUI’s during the holidays,” said Officer Rick Tamburo. “The rule of thumb for the holidays is if you drink alcohol you don’t drive. It’s not, I just had one or two, or I’m not at a .08 yet, it’s just don’t drive if you drink.”
And friends should watch out for their friends.
“If you have a holiday party, set rules for drinking and driving and have a pre-arranged plan for rides for your guests,” Tamburo said.
And if you plan on going out, check with the restaurant or bar ahead of time to see if they have made arrangements for free rides home or ways to help customers enjoy themselves without being a hazard to themselves or others.
Police will be out in force all over the state over the next few weeks as they wrap up the 2009 holiday enforcement effort that so far has netted 3,000 drunk drivers.