COMMENTARY: What you really should do if stopped

Monday May 13, 2013

Peter Rubin

In response to Friday's op-ed by Bradley Myerson "What to do if you're stopped for DWI" --

Four years after a catastrophic car crash on West Road, I am happy to be generally healthy and feeling like myself again. My recovery required 3-1/2 years of hospitalizations, surgeries, rehabilitations, and continuing observation and treatment. The medical team from the Westchester trauma and burn unit gave me an all-clear physical last September. Shortly after, I left for a sabbatical on an island in Puget Sound, a precious time for emotional and psychic repair. I returned home last month, much restored.

Despite permanent injuries, many blessings have come my way: The love and generosity of family, friends, and community; the courage and skill of rescuers, doctors, nurses, and therapists; and of course, the simple gifts of being able to walk and see and hear and think.

Fortunately, I do not experience the worst kinds of post-traumatic stress, although I am disproportionately rattled by news of collisions and fires. However, I was truly shaken by the commentary from defense attorney Bradley Myerson enumerating the steps to avoid the worst legal consequences of Driving While Intoxicated. To his credit Mr. Meyerson concludes his "DWI for Dummies" with a final caution not to drink and drive, which is the only point in his essay that I agree with.

In response, I offer a different set of suggestions for what to do if you are stopped for DWI:

1). Count your lucky stars that you are alive. In my case, the intoxicated driver who crossed the midline of the road wasn't stopped by the police. He was stopped by the front end of my car, which he hit head on. This local man died from the impact. It could have been you.

2). Thank God that you didn't harm or kill someone's child, someone's parent, or someone's friend. How would you live with yourself after that?

3). Take the breathalyzer test, and take the balance test. Tell the officer that you have been drinking, or that you are under the influence of other substances.

4). In court, tell the truth, plead guilty, and face the consequences.

5). Adapt to the inconvenience of not driving a car for a while, even if it means that you have to radically change your life. As a victim, my world was turned upside-down, I can't drive anymore, and I lost my job. Maybe you should experience this too, but without the amputations.

6). Ask the people who care about you for help.

7), Attend Project CRASH.

8). Pay the fines.

9). Do whatever it takes to never drive impaired again. Never. Tell everyone you know to do the same.

Memorial Day weekend is coming up. It is the third most dangerous time of the year to be on the road, after Thanksgiving and Independence Day.

Be careful.

Peter Rubin is a resident of Bennington.


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