Michigan has just put into place a new law pertaining to drunk driving that creates a category of penalties for drivers operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .17 or higher. Under the new law, a BAC level that is twice the current legal limit will lead to penalties that are twice as harsh. If drivers are caught with a BAC of .17 or higher, their jail time and the duration of their license suspension doubles. I’m thrilled to see these higher penalties and would like to see even more in the future.

Drunk driving is a civil offense that I find unforgivable. It is a motorist’s responsibility to keep him or herself and others safe. I simply can’t understand why anyone would ever choose to operate a vehicle while under the influence and deliberately take such a huge risk. They’re not only endangering their own lives, but also taking the lives of others around them into their own drunken hands.

I know that this has been said to all of us a million times before. Yet, people still continue to drink and drive. And until someone in your family has been affected by drunk driving, it’s impossible to understand the consequences.

When my mom was 18-years old, she was a victim in a motorcycle accident. While driving down M-40, a main county road on the west side of the state, she was hit by a drunk driver. Though her recollection of the events isn’t clear, she knows what happened from what others have told her. The drunk driver was leaving a wedding reception and failed to look before pulling out of the reception hall, causing the collision. My mom was thrown from the motorcycle. After that, all she can remember is waking up in the hospital bed. She suffered a broken leg, a broken arm and, essentially, a broken face. All of her facial bones and her jaw had to be reconstructed. She suffered through three weeks in a hospital, six more weeks of recovery at home and three additional months before making a full recovery. The ordeal caused her to miss her senior year of high school and countless other opportunities.

I’m sharing this story to show people just how much one person’s irresponsible decision can affect someone else’s life. Knowing what happened to my own mother has made me adamantly against drunk driving. I will forever refuse to drive after having even one drink because that one drink still impairs your driving ability.

Michigan’s new law is one I fully agree with. If someone has consumed more than twice the legal limit of alcohol, their judgment and motor skills are severely depleted. In this condition, they are basically incapable of doing anything.

While any level of alcohol in your system makes it dangerous to drive, I’m happy to see that the state has recognized that the level of intoxication corresponds with the severity of a driver’s impairment. Obviously, it is far more dangerous to drive at a BAC level of .17 than at a level of .08.

I support the state’s decision to have different levels of punishment. But I would like to see an increase in the severity of consequences across the board for drunk driving offenses. Mixing alcohol and driving is a far more risky and dangerous combination than many people think.

Ashley Griesshammer is an LSA freshman.

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