At Thomas Law Offices, we’re proud to take part in a biannual scholarship campaign aimed to help students chase their dreams and build a brighter future. The Fall 2017 submission period just came to a close, and we were truly humbled by the overwhelming amount of applications we received. The quality of the essays we received was outstanding. Thank you to everyone who applied!
We’re pleased to announce we’ve chosen a winner.
Congratulations to Stephanie Javarauckas!
Stephanie will be attending the University of Connecticut’s School of Law this fall.
Our essay topic for this period was on drunk driving and how, as individuals, we can take efforts to decrease the amount of drunk driving accidents that occur every year. Stephanie’s essay was extremely well-crafted and offered unique, actionable solutions.
Here’s her winning essay:
The People vs. Drunk Drivers
In 2016, an average of 28 people a day are killed in drunk driving accidents. In the previous year, 10,265 people died in alcohol-related crashes, which is a 300 person increase from 2014. (Van Cleave 2016). While this essay is being written, and while you are reading it, it is likely that someone will die as a result of a drunk driver. Every drunk driving accident is 100% preventable – it takes one person to decide to drive while inebriated to put others in harm’s way. The simple way to lower the amount of accidents is to not drink and drive, but not everybody abides by this simple moral code. Thus, we must fight against this epidemic as both a nation and a global community to reduce the amount of accidents that result from another’s desire to drive drunk.
An alcohol related car crash is caused when an individual believes they are sober enough to drive (or is too intoxicated to tell the difference and drives regardless) and ends up causing an accident. As an international community, we must work together to keep these individuals out of the car to begin with. A simple and effective solution is having a designated driver in all situations where alcohol will be involved. Even better, alternate means of transportation can be utilized to leave keys at home entirely. Since Uber came to New York City in 2011, an independent study shows that there has been a 25-35% reduction in alcohol-related car crashes. (Fortin 2017). As an adult of the legal drinking age, I am proud to say that I have witnessed situations where bartenders will provide free means of transportation back home if the person appears a touch too drunk to drive. The goal of getting in the car after a night out is to get home safe, and thus we need to make sure that if an individual elects to consume alcohol, they have a way to get home.
When I was in ninth grade at Suffield High School, we had an assembly about drunk driving. A woman in a veil came out and discussed the dangers, but it was not until the end of the presentation did we learn that she had killed a child in a crash a number of years ago. Not only did she take the life of another, but she left herself disfigured and wore a veil in public to hide the burn damage to her face. I remember exactly what she looked like eight years after watching this presentation because I walked out of the assembly terrified. The concept of being too drunk to understand that the vehicle you were driving had killed a child put me on the edge as to if I should feel bad for this woman, and to this day I cannot provide an honest answer. Her raw honesty left a room full of high schoolers silent, which proves that this form of raising awareness is effective.
If all drunk driving campaigns left individuals speechless and uncomfortable, people would be too afraid to get behind the wheel after drinking. Commercials about drunk driving now often involve police lights and the slogan “Get Sober or Get Pulled Over.” The threat of cop intervention is nothing in comparison to the warning that driving drunk can potentially kill a child and burn 60% of your body, without you realizing it. If the woman I watched presented to the entire world, the instances of alcohol related crashes would be decreased. As that is not possible, media campaigns about drunk driving need to focus on the harsh reality, not just police intervention – people need to be afraid for their lives, not afraid of walking away with a ticket.
It is an unfortunate reality that the laws that are enacted regarding drunk driving are often ignored. However my home of Connecticut has designed a perfect penalty that has been proven to lower the instances of drunk driving accidents. Since 2015, it has been the law in Connecticut that after the second offence of driving drunk, the individual must have an ignition interlock device installed in their car. The device is essentially a breathalyzer, and if the sample of over .025, the car will not start. (Crabtree 2015). Random samples are also requested while the vehicle is operating. As of 2015, the states that do have IIDs have seen a 40% decrease in alcohol related fatalities. Id. Based on this figure, if every car in the world had an IID installed, there would be a worldwide decrease of 40% of alcohol related fatalities behind the wheel. Individuals would be forced to drive sober, and while that seems aggressive, it should be necessary considering the amount of individuals who continue to drive drunk.
Three hours have passed since began researching this essay, which likely means that between 3-4 individuals have lost their lives in an alcohol related crash. If I could hit delete and turn back time to save these lives, I would, but still time would progress where individuals drive drunk and put others in danger. Thus, we must bind together both as a nation and across the world to decrease the number of alcohol related crashes.
We must provide a safe way for everybody to get home, so that nobody feels the need to get in the car after drinking. Media outlets must focus on the ugly side of what alcohol can cause an individual to do while driving, rather than alluding to police intervention. Finally, we all must keep in mind that people will ignore these steps to help them, so requiring them to blow a .025 before starting their car is an adequate way to control those who will not listen. But most importantly, you should not drive drunk. There is no excuse. Making a personal pledge could inspire others, and hopefully one day the roads will be free of alcohol related crashes.
Crabtree, M. (2015 June 30). New Connecticut DUI law goes into effect July 1st. WTNH. Retrieved from http://wtnh.com/2015/06/30/new-connecticut-dui-law-goes-into-effect-july-1st/
Fortin, J. (2017 Apr 7). Does Uber Really Prevent Drunken Driving? It Depends on the Study. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/07 /business/uber-drunk-driving-prevention.html
van Cleave, K. (2016 Dec 26). 2016 may go down as one of the worst years for drunk-driving deaths. CBS News. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/2016-may-go-down-as-one-of-the-worst-years-for-drunk-driving-deaths/
For more information on our next scholarship period which will be for Spring 2018, please see our law firm’s scholarship page. Congratulations again, Stephanie! May all your dreams come true.
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