Driving the lane, out of control

Monday, April 14, 2008

“Carmelo apologizes to his fans, the Denver community, his teammates and the Nuggets organization for the distraction this is causing them” … attorney Dan Recht.

When a recognized celebrity gets stopped fro drunk driving, it’s easy to ask for forgiveness. It was a simple DUI. According to reports, he was just weaving and afterwards he agreed to have a blood alcohol test drawn. No big deal; nobody got hurt…this time.

I wonder if Carmello Anthony would like to ask the more than 17,000 people who die each year in alcohol related car wrecks if it’s a big deal to drive drunk. That’s almost enough people to fill the Pepsi Center where he plays basketball for the Denver Nuggets. Almost 40% of all traffic deaths involve alcohol. That’s more than Mr. Anthony’s 3 point percentage. When Anthony drives the lane, he needs to be under control or else his team suffers. When he drives drunk we all suffer.

Alcohol is a depressant. One drink, a beer, a glass of wine or a shot of alcohol, increases the blood alcohol level by .02, enough to affect reaction time. Get to .08 and decision making is affected, even in elite athletes. And while .08 is often considered “legally intoxicated”, that is only true while operating a car. Fly an airplane and the level is zero, absolute sobriety. Do you want your surgeon with alcohol on his breath when he walks into the operating room? What about the teacher in your kid’s classroom?

Drinking and driving is a conscious choice made by the individual. Getting in the car and driving to the bar or restaurant presumes a planned drive home. With the first drink and with each subsequent drink ordered, an active choice is made to drive home or hand over the keys. As in basketball, the decision to hang on too long gets the player into trouble.

But alcohol related deaths are just the tip of the destruction iceberg. Over 275,000 people are injured each year in alcohol related crashes and they were just unlucky. 1.5 million people are arrested each year for drunk driving.

Once upon a time, there was a badge of honor that rewarded excessive drinking and while it isn’t wrong to get drunk, it definitely isn’t cool. Using alcohol responsibly requires good judgment and good friends to keep trouble at bay. And it takes a bartender to just say no.

Mr. Anthony was 100% fortunate not to have killed somebody and for those around him on the road, they were 100% lucky not to die.

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