Your mother is crying, your best friend is dead and you are locked in jail. This is not how you thought the night would end.
Alcohol-related collisions are responsible for the death of one American every 22 minutes, according to Cal Poly University Police Department (UPD) Commander Lori Hashim. Driving under the influence, or a DUI, is often the reason for this statistic. It refers to operating a motor vehicle while one’s blood alcohol content is above the legal limit set by state statute.
“In California, you legally are not allowed to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater,” Hashim said. “Drivers under 21 years old may be arrested if their blood alcohol concentration is as little as 0.01.”
A convicted drunk driver faces fines (sometimes thousands of dollars), jail time, increased insurance costs, attorney fees, courts costs, lost time from work and even injury or death.
The U.S. Department of Education has evidence that 25 percent of college students report they have driven while intoxicated in the past month, and an even greater percentage report having driven after having any amount of alcohol and/or ridden with a driver believed to be intoxicated. One study, conducted by vice president of Research for Lifespan Peter Snyder found that 3.36 million students get behind the wheel drunk each year. Even though alcohol is sometimes prevalent in college culture, it is not difficult to find alternatives to driving while intoxicated.
One of the easiest, and most common, alternatives to drunk driving is to designate a driver who will stay sober for the night.
“I personally have been a designated driver many times,” Cal Poly Community Service Officer and kinesiology sophomore Mandi Schlimmer said. ”It’s easy to find sober drivers because many students don’t drink.”
Cal Poly’s UPD website suggests: “If you might consume alcohol or drugs, have a plan before you set out — don’t assume you will be able to arrange a ride home later or have a safe place to crash.”
If it is too late to find a sober driver, cabs are always available. To get the phone number of a local cab company, a text message can be sent to 466453 (“GOOGLE” on most phones) with the word “taxi” and your zip code. For example, text “taxi 93401″ for taxi listings in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Some bars and restaurants have programs which provide patrons with a safe ride home. Rachel Kelly, restaurant manager of San Luis Obispo nightclub/restaurant The Graduate, said it offers its own solution to finding a sober ride on Wednesdays.
“The Graduate offers a $5 Safe Ride shuttle service every Wednesday night,” Kelly said. “The shuttle picks students up at the Campus Bottle, brings them to The Graduate and then drops them back off when the night is over.”
One of the safest alternatives to drinking and driving is simply choosing not to drink. There are many fun things one can do without alcohol, and Cal Poly works hard to promote and provide sober fun. For example, resident advisers (RAs), such as Fremont Residence Hall RA and recreation, parks and tourism administration sophomore Kevin Mould, put on weekend programs on campus for under-age students.
“As an RA, I try to create opportunities for my residents to build relationships with one another, whether that means organizing simple movie nights or more engaging events such as barbecues or dances,” Mould said.
Business administration freshman Kieran Pierce agreed that sober activities are more fun.
“Sprite will always taste 10 times better than vodka, and a game of ping pong is much easier to win without alcohol,” Pierce said.