By: Gustavo Vera
There are many students, adults, and even young teenagers, who are constantly going out with their friends to have a drink, or many drinks. Many of them don’t know, or don’t care, about the consequences for driving under the influence of alcohol.
According to Alcoholalert.com, the statistics of accidents in Puerto Rico caused by drunk drivers in 2008 were 162, which 41% were fatalities and 33% of the drivers had .08%, or more, of alcohol in their blood. These numbers, according to the statistics from the same web page, were bigger in the year 1988 to 1990, which means that they have lowered from then to now but, it doesn’t mean that the situation has disappeared.
There are many laws that penalizes drunk drivers, and that try to prevent the situation from repeating itself. One of those laws is the DUI (driving under the influence). This law according to 1.800.DUI.LAWS.com varies from state to state. It may also mean driving under the influence of drugs, or driving under the influence of both drugs and alcohol.
According to Alcoholism.about.com, penalizes any person (including college students) by taking away their civil rights, they lose their license temporarily or permanently, and they could even lose their right to vote.
Another law that punishes these drivers is the DWI (Driving While Impaired, or Intoxicated), that is, according to 1.800.DUI.LAWS.com, is the “second most used acronym for drunk driving cases.” This law affects the same rights as the first law and the person could face trial, or be arrested.
The OWI (Operating While Intoxicated or Impaired) is another law that is used in Puerto Rico and some states in the United States, which also punish any drunk driver in the street.
In order to prove that the driver has offended any of these laws, the officer must take different kinds of tests of the person driving the vehicle and the person must pass it. If the driver refuses the test, or if he fails, he may be arrested and put on trial.
According to Alcoholalert.com, in PR the first and second offense are misdemeanors, the third one is a felony and the offender could go directly to jail, without any trial.
One difference between the laws of the US and PR is the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) law. In the US the limit is .08%, in PR the new limit, according to CBSnews.com, is now .02%. This law was approved in Oct. 30, 2009, by the House of Representatives who wish to control the problems of alcohol in PR.
These laws are made for the same purpose: to reduce accidents and tragedies on the streets and off them. They are made to protect the lives of the innocent and to bring conscience upon those who drink excessively.
The most important consequence of breaking any of these laws is going to jail because it may destroy any scholars, colleagues and nay person’s reputation and future.
Victim of a drunk driver
Eduardo Moll Irizarry, 18, is a student of the Polytechnic University in San Juan, who was recently involved in an accident between a drunk driver while driving with his sister.
The accident happened at night, when the sister was picking him up from his work at a supermarket close from their house. They were headed back to their house and on their way they stop at an intersection, he said trying to remember how it exactly happened.
At the intersection they wait and look to keep going forward. Once they do this they keep going and in a “matter of seconds” they were impacted by another driver, he said. No one was hurt.
After the driver hit them, he kept going ignoring what happened. “The officer said that he kept hitting persons, until they finally stopped him” he said surprised.
As Irizarry told this he had a calm attitude, even a funny and humorous reaction towards the whole situation.
His sister, on the other hand, was shocked and, as he said, “she would never drive again. Irizarry also added that he was in favor of the new law of PR since he doesn’t drink and “doesn’t care”. He also said that the students and everyone “should be more conscious in their action.”
In favor of the law
As there are people who are against the new law as Irizarry, there are others who are not to happy about it.
|Espada playing pool|
Nelson Rivera Espada, 19, a student from Carolina Campus is an average student who likes to go out and enjoy drinking with his friends, as he explained. Even though he thinks that drinking and driving is irresponsible, he admits that he has driven while having a few drinks on him.
“I drive because I don’t have anyone else to drive me or, because my friends are more wasted than me” he said in a humorous way. He hasn’t been on an accident and he said that he is grateful that it hasn’t happened.
Espada is against the new law because it’s “unfair and illogical.” “When I go out I’m used to have two or three drinks and when I have them I have already .05% of alcohol in my body” he said mad at the situation.
There are many people like Espada and many like Irizarry but, a simple law won’t prevent students like Espada and other students from other Universities to keep going to “Bosque” street and to “Happy Hours” at bars and drink until they are unconscious. They have to experience the situation to react.