Rant & Rave

Tuesday, December 22, 1998

Drink if you must,
but then don’t drive

By Lawrence Aragon


ON Jan. 7, 1997, James Steinseifer took the lives of Carina Nuuanu, Nicole Nuuanu-Dudoit and their niece Laakea Nuuanu when he crossed the double-yellow center line on Farrington Highway, slamming head on into the Nuuanu's car.

Stienseifer had been driving 63 mph in a 35 mph zone, and had a blood alcohol content of .36 percent, more than four times the legal limit of .08 percent.

The Nuuanus were innocent victims of Stienseifer's drunk driving. Carina and Nicole were sisters of my friend Monique Nuuanu and Laakea was her daughter. Now Monique, her family and friends have to deal with the loss of their loved ones, while Stienseifer is living with the guilt of killing three innocent people.

The deaths affected me because I knew the family, but many similar incidents involving drunk drivers take place throughout the year.

People should never drink and drive. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that alcohol and driving don't mix. Alcohol slows drivers' reactions and impairs judgment. Drunk drivers are not only putting themselves at risk, but also putting many innocent drivers in danger.

People think if they ask someone to drive them home it would make them lose face among friends. This is a ridiculous. It is better to endure a little teasing than to risk your life, or worse, get written up in the media for an accident you caused. The worst would be to have your name forever reviled by society in connection with the deaths of other people.

If drinkers just ask someone sober to drive, they have a greater chance of living to party another day. Teen boys are at the greatest risk, because many have not learned their limitations in handling liquor. Many also have a tendency to enjoy driving fast and showing off their cars. This is an extremely dangerous mix.

I think that the government should lower the legal blood-alcohol level and increase penalties for drunk driving. This way, people would think twice about driving under the influence.

Anti-drunk driving organizations such as MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving) are working for a great cause. The day of the drunk driver needs to end.

The rules for driving over the holidays and beyond are:

bullet Friends should never let friends drive drunk.

bullet Have a designated driver.

bullet If there's no one to drive you home, sleep over at a friend's house or call a cab.

I'm not saying don't have fun. Just make sure you're playing it smart and safe and not endangering others. Life is too great to be wasted because of one drunken episode.

Lawrence Aragon is a student at Kapiolani Community College.

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