Thursday, November 20, 2008

DUI death sentence

Where I live, recently there was a news story about a young lady who was in a single vehicle motor vehicle crash. She was seen at a hospital and cleared for booking in the jail for suspicion of DUI. Her blood alcohol levels were approximately 1.5 time the legal limit. She died 20 hours later in the jail. Autopsy results showed a lacerated spleen and liver that were missed in the ER. The hospital was ordered to pay her family $4million for neglicence. Recently our city council settled with her family for $3million.

That's $7million to the family of a drunk driver.

I'm torn.

I would never wish for any parent to suffer the loss of their child, much less due to negligence on the part of those who are supposed to "Serve and Protect" or health care professionals, but how many families are out there right now mourning a loved one who was killed by a drunk driver?

How are those families compensated for their loss due to the negligence of a person just like this young lady. A person who knowingly and willingly consumed a mind altering substance, CHOSE to get behind the wheel of a car and took the life of an innocent person. Maybe one day I'll share with you the story of one of these families, I have one in mind. Another bright and beautiful young lady whose family was compensated $15,000 for their loss.

I've seen first hand the result of crashes caused by DUI/DWAI. I have spoken to families on the "front lines" just learning that their loved one is injured or dead. I have been the first one on the scene when they have passed out at the wheel, flipped their vehicle and were ejected hundreds of feet across a highway. I have had to crawl through the window of a car that is upside down in an effort to reach my patient and have to stay with them keeping them protected while my partners used extrication tools to cut the car away from them. I have had to cut open a car so that I could recover the remains of accident victims for my county coroner.

I share these stories because I want us all to be more aware. I want everyone to think about how we'll get home if we choose to go enjoy an adult beverage. There are so many options. Designate a driver, use the bus, call a cab, limit your drinks to no more than 1 an hour and have a back-up plan. I try to be that back-up plan for everyone I know. I have an "anytime" policy for everyone I love. They can call me anytime to come get them home safe so that they will never be one of my stories.

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