"Drink responsibly." "Have a designated driver." -- These catch phrases are important reminders to anyone who goes out with the expectation that they will be drinking an alcoholic beverage.
Mayor Ken Murphy has stated that the town needs to put resources into prevention and education rather than just law enforcement. He doesn't like the idea that our police department "kicks off the holiday season" with their participation in the Wolf Pack DUI detail. He said he believes that police volunteers should be shuttling people home from the bars if they are impaired.
On average 450 are killed every year statewide in DUI related traffic accidents. According to the U.S. secretary of transportation, someone is killed every 30 minutes in a DUI accident. Four people were arrested just last Saturday night in the Payson area for driving under the influence. They didn't call a cab, or a friend and they did not drink responsibly. In fact, that same night a police officer attempted to pull a drunk driver over on Tyler Parkway. The driver and passenger were inebriated and evidently thought they would outrun the police and busted through a chain link fence in a residential neighborhood.
The hard truth of the matter is that no matter how many catch phrases we use, no matter how much we as a community push prevention, people drink and drive anyway.
Impairment means that your senses are corrupted by the intoxicant of alcohol and or/drugs -- you think you are perfectly fine to get behind the wheel, you think nothing will happen, but your judgment is hampered.
There are many people in this area who have felt the consequences of drinking or drugging and driving -- a night in jail, having their license revoked, paying a fine.
These are all simply inconveniences in the mind of someone who has lost a loved one courtesy of a drunk driver, or someone who is wheelchair-bound because a person leaving a party thought they were OK to drive.
Murphy makes the case that our participation in the DUI details, which the bars are informed of, puts a damper on the holiday fun tourists want when they visit our town.
He talks as though law enforcement randomly pulls everyone over, chomping at the bit to cuff someone and take them to jail.
Officers undergo substantial training to look for signs that a driver is impaired. Their goal is to take a dangerous person off the road so they don't have to later call relatives of someone who has been killed.
One of the wonderful things about Payson that draws new residents every year, is that this is a relatively safe community. Wouldn't we rather draw people who enjoy the idea of a safe community as opposed to those who come here to drink and drive unhampered by the laws that govern our nation?
When a loved one is on the road, we want them to make it home alive.
That is the goal of the Wolf Pack detail -- It's not to hurt tourism or local businesses, or harass the public or fill up the jail.
Stopping for the Wolf Pack detail may be a minor inconvenience, Mayor Murphy, but most of us will gladly endure it so our loved ones and friends won't be killed by drunk drivers.