Over the weekend, I was in trauma. Our social worker was escorting a young man who was there to observe as part of his public service commitment; he was 19 which is relevant. He struck me as very polite and well mannered, in short a young man who was inculcated with sense of responsiblity and morality by his parents.
I spoke with our social worker briefly after the young man left and asked what he had done; she told me he had gotten a DUI. But here’s where it gets interesting: he WASN’T DRIVING.
It seems that the young man, although he was irresponsible enough to drink under the legal age of 21, WAS responsible enough to arrange for a designated driver. This designated driver, when driving said young man home, decided he was thirsty and stopped at a convenience store for a soda. Since said young man was staying in the car, DD decided to leave the car running so that said young man could listen to the radio while waiting in the car, in the passenger seat. A police officer stationed at the convenience store then arrested the young man for DUI, which he was successfully prosecuted for even though he was in the passenger seat! In Arizona, when they passed our draconian new DUI/DWI laws last year, also snuck in a provision that basically means even if you are in the back seat trying to sleep it off, if you have the keys in your possession or can reach them from anywhere in the car, you are displaying intent to drive and therefore can be prosecuted. This is what happened to this young man; since he could reach the keys from the passenger seat, even though he was still seat belted in the passenger seat, he was according to the cop displaying intent to drive…and therefore arrested for DUI. And successfully prosecuted no less!
What are we teaching our children about responsibility? He tried to do the right thing after all. Kids drink, young adults drink. At least mine did, I did, my mom and dad did, my grandparents did. I don’t think I’m alone in having family like this. So, doing the responsible thing and getting a designated driver nets him the same punishment as driving drunk would have. This is a tragedy. What are we coming to?