2nd Annual “Don’t Get a St. Patrick’s Day DUI” Rant

The following rant is dedicated to the memory of a fine attorney and dear friend Nancy Yellin, Esquire (1969-1997) who was killed along with three members of her family including an infant niece by a drunk driver 15 years ago south Florida.  Nancy and I were good friends from law school.  It is offered in the hopes that those who choose to drive won’t drink and those who drink won’t drive tomorrow (or any night.)

1)  Despite the fact that it’s St. Patrick’s Day, there is no moral obligation to drink.  I am informed by Jewish friends that at Passover it is religiously obligatory to eat at least some matzoh; neither canon law nor general moral duties require anyone to drink on the feast of St. Patrick.  In Ireland, St. Patrick’s feast day is an actual religious holiday, a holy day of obligation for Catholics in Ireland at which attendance at Mass is required.  It is not a holy day of obligation in the United States and it is entirely permissible for a Catholic to decline to drink at any time (particularly during Lent, a traditional period of abstinence from frivolous vice.)  If you wish to go to Mass, consult your local priest, bishop or parish newsletter, etc.

2)  Stereotypes aside, the 32 counties of Ireland have many teetotalers who, for medical, personal, 12-step recovery or parenting reasons drink not at all or quite rarely.  While the public house is a staple of Irish society, not all who go to the pub drink alcohol; they do serve food there and, in the Republic of Ireland, may also have a grocery store or even an undertaker service.  Driving while intoxicated/under the influence is a significant problem in Ireland as in the U.S. and crackdowns have grown more severe in recent years.

3)  How can you avoid getting a DUI?  Well, there are a number of strategies: the moderation strategy, the stay-home-and-make-whoopee-instead strategy, the pedestrian strategy, the passenger strategy, the sleep-it-off strategy or the sobriety strategy.  In 2012, St. Patrick’s Day will fall on a Saturday, so there’s no reason not to sleep it off at a friend’s house if you can due to Monday morning employment logistics (for most workers.)  In extreme cases, one can use one’s car (in Maryland, at least, per Atkinson v. State) as a stationary shelter to sleep off a drunk, though I’d recommend leaving the keys under the car and sleeping in the back seat or shotgun seat if at all – WITHOUT putting the key in the ignition for ANY purpose (not even the radio.) Drinking (if one must) at home or within safe walking distance home is another strategy.

4)  What does it cost to deal with a DUI?

Well, at least the following:

1)  Bail money (often waived for locals in many jurisdictions) – $0-500?
2)  Hiring a lawyer for a criminal trial and, in many states, an administrative hearing – $1500-$4000, depending
3)  Replacing your transportation while you are suspended – what do 10 busses cabs a week cost?
4)  Job damage – most jobs cannot be done by non-drivers who take the job expecting to drive to work
5)  Court fines – $100-$1000.00+, depending
6)  Consequences of jail: dog-sitters, baby-sitters, you name it
7)  Probation fees – $25/month, maybe
8) Social life – some women won’t date a DUI convict and your girlfriend may demote you to ex-boyfriend, hard to calculate
9)  Medical costs – were you aware that DUI can injure people? Co-pays or worse for your self
10) Insurance deductible – to pay out for the tree, mailbox 0r 8-year old that you killed – $250-$1000
11) Alcohol counseling – ordered or as otherwise needed, varies
12)  Psychiatric care – when you just can’t stop seeing the face of the 8-year old you recklessly killed – Co-pays or worse plus co-pays for drugs
13)  Suit by landlord – when your fired/jailed self isn’t paying rent, your landlord will evict you.  Rentx3 plus repairs and legal fees
14)  Replacing your chattels – after your stuff is curbsided?  Check with IKEA if you want a bed and a dresser
15)  New car note – because your coverage provides you fair market value, not replacement, once you wrecked the jalopy.  Call GMAC Financing.

Cheaper alternatives:

a) Sobriety: free, though not always easy socially or for those who, one day at a time, exert effort to stay sober
b) Moderation: cheaper than drunkenness and easier on the liver
c) Hotel: cheaper than almost every expense listed above
d) Sleeping off in the car: has that Ron White sort of vibe about it, but far safer than driving
e) Cab ride: 100 mile cab ride probably costs about $500.00 – sounds stupid, until you have paid a lawyer $1500
f) Make “whoopee” instead: almost free despite recent discussions of contraceptive coverage in health insurance, easier on the liver though some chiropractic risks involved.

Anyway, no need to beat this point further.  If you want to drink, awesome.  Stay home, sleep it off.  If you want to drive, it’s Diet Coke and tonic water for you.  If you cannot handle this, you either need 12-step recovery or perhaps a punch in the teeth by a Teamster or a Marine (or both.)

One thought on “2nd Annual “Don’t Get a St. Patrick’s Day DUI” Rant

  1. LOVE this post Bruce. I remember when Nancy and her family were killed and it broke my heart. As you may remember my grandmother was killed by a drunk driver. Because of that persons recklessness I never got to meet her.

    I will gladly share this post via social media. It is a very important lesson in doing the right thing.

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