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One of the first things my cousin said to me when I left for college was “Don’t drink and drive...because D.U.I.’s suck...they really do!” I assured him that I would never drive if I had been drinking and I assumed no one else would either. At least not anyone I knew personally. Well, that changed this year when not one or two, but four of my close friends were arrested for Driving Under the Influence.
The first DUI happened last summer after our first year of college and many months of being careful and smart. My friend had been drinking heavily at a party the night before. He woke up late for work, still drunk. He got behind the wheel of his car, raced to work and was pulled over for speeding. He reeked of alcohol, was under the age of 21 and when the police officer tested his Blood Alcohol Content, he was arrested for drunk driving. He spent seven hours in detox, in a room full of drunk, angry people at the police station, all waiting to sober up.

Then there was the call home asking his parents to pick him up at the police station… He lost his driver license for one year, had to pay $3000 in fines, attend three AA meetings and twice-weekly alcohol education classes for three months. He now has a misdemeanor charge on his record and relies on friends for transportation.
We were all shocked and scared for months; if we were careful before, we were completely paranoid after that. But three months later, it happened again. This time, my roommate thought she was “sober enough” to drive home after a party. She had barely driven her car around the corner when she got pulled over. Her blood alcohol level tested below the legal limit, but she was an underage drinker. Any amount of alcohol in underage people is illegal. She got a DUI, the car was impounded and she was driven home in the back of a police cruiser. She lost her license for a year, all for driving half-a-block while under the influence. She now takes the city bus instead of driving her Lexus. She wishes she had never gotten in that car that night.
My third friend had been drinking at his teammate’s house. He got into a fight with his girlfriend on the phone. He decided he had to see her right then, jumped in his car and got on the freeway. He didn’t get very far. He crashed his car into the center divide. His car was totaled, but luckily, he wasn’t hurt and he didn’t hit or hurt anyone else. When police arrived at the scene, he was arrested for DUI, went to detox, lost his license, and had to pay the fines and go to the classes.
The fourth story is probably the most absurd of all. This friend had been partying at his apartment on campus but then remembered he had to move his car from a metered parking space to a permit spot in the parking structure before morning. He wasn’t going out on the main road, he just needed to change parking spots. Well, a campus security officer saw him get out of his car after moving it one level in the parking lot and called police because he was stumbling and smelled like alcohol. He went through the patterned experience we all have come to know so well: he was arrested, taken to detox for fourteen hours, lost his license, paid the huge fines, and had to go to the classes.
Seeing my friends make these repeated mistakes made me want to write this story. My friends are very lucky that they didn’t get hurt, hurt anyone else or worse. If you’re thinking, “Hey, this girl’s just got some of the dumbest friends ever.” Well, the truth is it can happen to anyone. People can get a DUI even if they aren’t “drunk” but have just been drinking, whether they’re legal drinkers or underage. The bottom line is….don’t drink and drive!

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