Horrid behavior: Driving drunk with children in the car

Last fall, a Minnesota woman was arrested on a drunk driving charge. She wasn’t alone in the vehicle, though. Five of her children – ages ranging from an infant to a 9-year-old – were in the car with her. This was shocking news, but is more common than you might think.

Drunk driving is a serious charge no matter what. But when a drunk driver’s vehicle includes children as occupants, that’s extremely bad news since the lives of those children also are being endangered. As a result, a litany of other potential charges may surface.

Having a child in the car may elevate the charge to felony drunk driving, or there’s even the possibility of child abuse and child endangerment charges. If the child dies as a result of a drunk driver’s actions, murder charges may be filed.

More than 200 children died as result of drunk drivers

By themselves, bad parenting and drunk driving are horrible behaviors. However, when combined, the two may lead to tragedy. Just look at last fall’s report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regarding alcohol-impaired driving for 2016. The numbers remain a cause for alarm.

The NHTSA report disclosed that 17 percent of all U.S. children aged 14 and younger who died in motor vehicle crashes that year were killed in crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers. A majority of those 214 children killed were passengers in vehicles driven by someone who was drunk. Here is a breakdown of those fatalities:

  • 115 (54 percent) were occupants of vehicles driven by drunk drivers.
  • 61 (29 percent) were passengers of other vehicles.
  • 36 (17 percent) were pedestrians, bicyclists or other non-occupants of vehicles.
  • 2 (less than one percent) were the drivers.

All of these fatalities were preventable, and resulted in the deaths of youngsters who had so much to look forward to if they grew into adulthood. Sadly, that didn’t happen for these 214 children. Please don’t endanger others, especially children.

Drink responsibly. Don’t drive a vehicle if you have had too much to drink, and don’t get into a car that’s driven by a drunk driver. Take away that person’s car keys, or persuade him or her not to drive. But, if your skills of persuasion don’t work, ultimately, you will have to report the driver to authorities.

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