Oregon Magazine
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Impaired Driving Creates
Utterly Foolish Gambling

by Fred Delkin
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   'Tis the season to make merry, and, of course, driving mishaps will soar accordingly.  Had a few drinks and still want to drive?  Many of us have rowed that boat oh so many times.  We again take the opportunity to warn readers that drinking alcohol and piloting a vehicle are not good companions and the gamble of pairing them just ain't smart, or worth it!  
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We found that out the hard way by attracting the attention of a diligent officer of the law...who pulled us over before we could endanger ourselves or others.  As we've pointed out in this space, the sheer cost of Oregon's newly-ramped up driving laws should be enough to deter impaired driving, but, alas, such is not the case, as a perusal of local news sources too often reveals.
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 Substance abuse goes beyond just causing risks behind the wheel.  When it becomes habitual, family relationships suffer and the affected person resists intervention, even if it is well-meaning.  Sure, there are some positive reasons for drinking...it stimulates the appetite, it adds relaxation, it increases one's sociability, and some say it encourages a sexual relationship.  However, approach the Oregon driving cutoff of .08 blood alcohol measurement and you risk impaired judgment, deadening of reflexes and a hangover in the morning.  And, if you're stopped by a law officer while driving and test .08 or more, you'll have a mandatory viewing of a horror show sponsored by trauma nurses who've too often seen the negative results of such driving activity.
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Consuming alcohol or either prescription or recreational drugs is always a risk, not just to yourself, but to others...not just if you do it before driving, but if you do it to excess in social situations.  We have clever ways of  screening this negativity away from our brain functions, but it doesn't disappear.  So, consume in moderation in all circumstances.  Easy for me to write that, no?  Yes, but it should be at the top of your mind.
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We've now found it no true bother to avoid impairing our judgment and our thoughts and physical reflexes...and, no, we're not a party pooper to be around.  We are willing to intervene when someone is clearly impaired, but intends to drive.  If you  must 'loosen up', do it without touching a wheel, or sailing or powering your boat or plane.  This lecture is now over, but use it to remind yourself, your loved ones, your friends and associates that seat belts and sobriety are easy ways to extend the life of you and others.
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© 2011 Oregon Magazine