Drinking and Drugging While Driving is a Choice, Not an Accident
Drinking and drugging while driving is a choice, not an accident.
That's the message behind the '3-D Drinking, Drugging and Driving, Always a Choice, Never an Accident event held by the Ocean County Health Department this past Friday at the Ocean County Mall in Toms River.
"It is a choice if you get behind the wheel and your wasted and banged up and have been doing things that you shouldn't have been doing," Peter Curatolo, OCHD Health and Improvement Plan Coordinator said.
He says the event is as much reminding everyone about the penalties for this behavior as it is encouraging people to make the right choice.
"If you see those keys on that kitchen table and you know you've been doing something or engaging in something that you shouldn't have, stop and think for one second and then put those keys back down," Curatolo said.
Curatolo says they want to encourage people to make the right choice after a night of drinking.
"Call Uber, call Lyft, call a friend," Curatolo said. "Don't get behind the wheel, you're not only risking your life, your risking your future."
There are several obvious reasons why you shouldn't drive under the influence explains, Dr. Brad Pulver, E.R. Medical Director at Ocean Medical Center in Brick, and Hackensack Meridian Health.
"You have to understand that you can never driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs," Pulver said. "Your judgement is terrible when you're under the influence, your reaction time is terrible and the worst thing of all is that you don't even realize that."
Dr. Pulver says you may believe you're doing okay, but you're not, and you driving under the influence is a catastrophe waiting to happen.
There are some telltale signs that you are under the influence.
"You'll start to slur your speech, you'll lose your balance and then eventually you'll alter your mental status," Pulver said. "You just have to know that it's a zero tolerance situation, you cannot cross that line."
Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer says one demographic they're focusing on are teenagers getting ready to drive and those already behind the wheel.
"The one thing we want to stress to these kids is that alcohol will affect your motor skills and when you're operating a motor vehicle, your reaction time is going to be slower and that's something they need to take into account," Billhimer said. "It's very important to get the message out to these soon to be drivers not to drink and drive and not to use illegal drugs and operate a motor vehicle."
If you think you're invincible and are above drinking or doing drugs and then getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, think again.
"Nobody's above it and that's what everybody needs to understand," Billhimer said. "Events like this are important so that we can go out and educate the kids and part of my whole administration since I've been the prosecutor has been talking to kids and trying to help them make better choices."
Brick Memorial High School students Tavish, Alexis and Kate wore drunk goggles at the event and then tried to walk a straight line.
"It was kind of weird, it's not easy to do," Tavish said. "You can't really walk in a straight line because your balance is off."
"It was kind of trippy, you think you're going to be good at it and then you start walking and realize this is really hard," Alexis said. "It's crazy that people even get in a car when they're like that (under the influence)."
"I saw two of everything, it was blurry, I was like woah...and I was tripping everywhere," Kate said.
Their advice for anyone considering driving under the influence is simple.
"Don't," Tavish said.
"Don't do it, it's not smart, it's not just affecting you, it's affecting everyone around you," Alexis said.
Brick Memorial Students Tavish, Alexis and Kate were joined by several other schools in the area including Brick Township High School, Lacey Township High School, Jackson Liberty High School and Ocean County College.
Toms River Police, Lakewood Police and Brick Township Police joined the Prosecutors Office at the event as well.