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According to https://tinyurl.com/44p62ekn, first time DUI penalties include a minimum of a $300 fine, six months of probation, a misdemeanor on your permanent record and more.

The trajectory of a person’s life can change in an instant.

To find proof of the above statement, one needs to look no further than the heartbreaking case of Henry Ruggs III.

According to https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/02/us/las-vegas-raiders-henry-ruggs-iii-dui/index.html, “LVMPD (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department) responded to the crash early Tuesday - around 3:39 a.m. - near an intersection where they found a Chevrolet Corvette and a Toyota RAV4 that was on fire. Firefighters responded and found a person dead inside the Toyota.

“A LVMPD news release said the Corvette was in the center lane driving at a high rate of speed before veering to the right lane, where the Toyota was, and rear-ended the Toyota. The Toyota came to a stop and caught fire with the driver trapped in the driver’s seat, the release said.”

According to https://www.iheart.com/content/2021-11-03-henry-ruggs-iiis-mugshot-more-details-released-after-fatal-crash/, Ruggs was traveling in his Corvette at a speed of 156 miles-per-hour before rear-ending the Toyota RAV4. His blood-alcohol content was 0.16, which is twice the 0.08 legal limit in the state of Nevada.

In a matter of seconds, the family of 23-year-old Tina Tintor was devastated by a loss of life that most people can imagine. A young woman with her whole life ahead of her is now dead. Her family is left with only memories.

This is a situation that could have easily been avoided.

Ruggs, who was in his second year in the National Football League (NFL) as a wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders, had every resource at his disposal.

Plenty of money to call for an Uber, plenty of teammates and friends to reach out to, and plenty of time to decide that he was not okay to drive.

He did not elect to use these resources. He has since been cut by the Raiders and he faces decades of jail time for his actions on that fateful night. His NFL career is likely over.

The Ruggs incident has once against thrust drunk driving into the national spotlight.

We have all heard someone rationalize this behavior. They say, “I’ve done it before and been fine. This time will be no different.” They say, “I’m a good driver and I feel fine.” They say, “I’m only driving a short distance. What is the worst that could happen?”

It is misguided thinking like this that leads to so many preventable accidents in the United States.

According to https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving, “Every day, about 28 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes — that’s one person every 52 minutes. In 2019, these deaths reached the lowest percentage since 1982 when NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) started reporting alcohol data — but still 10,142 people lost their lives. These deaths were all preventable.”

These statistics are startling, and they are so very sad.

In an era of Uber and Lyft and smartphones, there is no reason at all that anyone should choose to drive after they have been drinking. There is a way to get home that does not involve putting your life and other people’s lives in danger.

Also according to https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving, “Alcohol is a substance that reduces the function of the brain, impairing thinking, reasoning and muscle coordination. All these abilities are essential to operating a vehicle safely.

“Driving after drinking is deadly. Yet it still continues to happen across the United States. If you drive while impaired, you could get arrested, or worse — be involved in a traffic crash that causes serious injury or death.”

Even if you have done it before, the reality is that it does not matter. It only takes one split second for your life, or someone else’s life, to be ruined or ended.

Even if you feel okay, remember: alcohol impairs your judgement and may cause you to make a poor decision.

The legal penalty for drunk driving is bad enough on its own. According to https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving, “Driving a vehicle while impaired is a dangerous crime. Tough enforcement of drunk-driving laws has been a major factor in reducing drunk-driving deaths since the 1980s. Charges range from misdemeanors to felony offenses, and penalties for impaired driving can include driver’s license revocation, fines and jail time. It’s also extremely expensive. A first-time offense can cost the driver upwards of $10,000 in fines and legal fees.”

The consequences for one’s life and the lives of others can be even worse. Not only do you risk bodily harm to yourself, but you can also harm or kill someone else.

Not only do the legal penalties get worse in these instances, but you have to live with the fact that you have ended someone’s life. Their family and yours have to live with this fact, too.

All because you did not want to pay for an Uber or call a friend. All because you thought that you were okay to drive.

These situations are heartbreaking, and they are so easily avoided.

Next time you are intoxicated and want to drive home, consider the story of Henry Ruggs III and Tina Tintor. Two lives shattered by a poor decision.

Call an Uber, call a friend, call a cab or just walk. It may be a decision that will save your life, the life of someone else or both.

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