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Drive sober or get pulled over

December 17, 2012 by Steven M. Gursten

A  personal story  from a Michigan woman whose life was changed forever after she was in a car accident caused by a drunk driver

It’s important to remind ourselves during this holiday season of the slogan from National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, that you must drive sober… or you will get pulled over.

This is not to be a holiday killjoy.  Rather, it is because  nearly 11,000 people die on the road every year due to drunk driving.  In order to hopefully save lives, law enforcement in Michigan will be cracking down on drunk driving over the holidays.

In addition to the deaths attributed to drunk driving, another 1.4 million people were arrested for DUI in 2009, according to the latest statistics available from fbi.gov.

As many of my friends in law enforcement like to say – “the cops will see you before you see them.”

This month, we’ve written from time to time about Michigan’s drunk driving laws and how buzzed driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving.  As part of this, I’d like to share a story about a Michigan mother of two whose life was changed forever because of a drunk driver. Sarah G. reached out to our law firm after reading our blog.

Here’s her story:

“In September of 2002 my husband and I along with our two sons, ages 4 and 9, were on our way home from a family dinner.  We were headed north on M-66 near Battle Creek, Michigan when suddenly a vehicle entered our lane from M-78 and hit us head on toward the passenger front side of the vehicle.  We were all wearing our seat belts and my youngest was in a booster seat.  I was pinned in the front seat of the vehicle and unable to get to my children.  My 9-year-old son had a large contusion on his forehead and was taken on a gurney through the back window of our car while my younger son was taken right in his car seat to the ambulance.  They had to use the Jaws of Life to extricate me from the vehicle – I could not straighten my legs and my right arm was sore.

I had a ligament fracture to my left knee which means the force of the impact caused my ligament to tear off a piece of bone.  I also had a bruised ligament on the right leg and a broken right arm. I was confined to bed rest with my legs in braces and elevated for four weeks. I started physical therapy four weeks later to straighten my legs again. Three weeks after that I was able to begin putting weight on my left leg.  That was seven weeks of bed rest.

My therapy continued so I could learn to walk again.  I am now walking normally again, but do not have complete range of motion so I cannot run like I used to.  My right arm did not heal correctly so I had to have surgery again in 2003 to have the bone re-broken and a metal plate put in.

The driver of the other vehicle had a blood alcohol content of .10 and said he didn’t remember the accident.  He suffered minor scrapes and bruises.  He was convicted of operating-while-intoxicated causing serious injury.  He was also driving a vehicle that was improperly registered and did not have any auto insurance.  During his sentencing I shared with the driver how his choice to drink and drive had affected my life.  I missed holding my 4-year-old on my lap and reading to him, seeing my son’s football games, sitting at the table and eating meals with my family, going to church and school parties, and taking a shower and dressing myself.  His poor choices affected my whole family.

My hope is that through sharing our story at least one individual will be positively affected.”

Unfortunately, there are countless stories like Sarah’s. We hope that by sharing the emotional and physical hardships she endured, we can influence a driver’s decision to call a friend or make other arrangements.

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