Two out of three people will be in a drunken driving crash in their lifetime, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“Do you have any idea what it’s like to see pictures of your baby in pieces?” said Nora Montanaro, Plattsburgh State journalism professor and proud mother of three.
Montanaro lost her eldest son, Albert Montanaro III, in a car crash due to a drunken driver 11 years ago.
Montanaro said that drunken driving is not taken as seriously compared to other crimes.
“It’s seen more as an unfortunate occurrence but not a serious crime,” Montanaro said. “The death of somebody is seen as a side effect rather than a killing.”
On Jan. 16, 2006, (Albert) Montanaro III was running in the grass, preparing for the state trooper psychical ability test when he was violently killed by a drunken driver.
The metal of the car cut (Albert) Montanaro III’s body in half, and first responder found one of his shoes 2,000 ft. from the scene of the accident, according to Montanaro.
Montanaro said that driving while intoxicated is “criminal negligence” and can be prevented.
“It (drunken driving) is criminal,” Montanaro said. “There is absolutely no excuse for it.”
Preparing a plan for the weekend ahead of time can cut down the risk of being in a situation where someone could consider getting behind the wheel intoxicated.
Melissa Garvey, a PSUC freshman music major, said that in college, “frequent partying without planning” can create opportunities where someone could find themselves drunken driving.
“Making sure that people know their way home is the most important part,” Garvey said. “Whether it’s a designated driver, a taxi or walking, even.”
Garvey stressed that just because a driver might be confident that they can make it home safely, driving after a night of drinking is never safe for anyone.
“You don’t even have control of yourself when you’re drunk,” Garvey said. “I don’t know how people expect to control a car.”
Garvey has also had people in her life be negatively affected by drunken driving.
Last year, friends of Garvey were in a crash and the driver of the vehicle survived but was on life support and needed several organ transplants.
“It was crazy,” Garvey said. “It only takes one time to change everything.”
Hailey Frey, a PSUC sophomore art major, also said that not having a reliable plan home can encourage drunken driving.
Frey is “extremely against” drunken driving due to the loss of her dog when she was eight years old.
Frey remembers her Saturday morning cartoons being interrupted by the news that her puppy, Jasmine, was killed in a “hit-and-run” by a drunken driver around 4 a.m..
“The farmer next door found her soon after she was hit,” Frey said. “Her back legs were completely broken. My mom was devastated.”
Drunken driving is mainly committed by multiple time offenders.
An average drunken driver has driven drunk over 80 times before the first arrest, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Montanaro said that because drunken drivers get away with it so often, they continue taking the risks, and it isn’t until they hit someone that people get caught.
“It doesn’t matter how many times that you do it,” Montanaro said. “People are killed everyday, and the victims are faceless and voiceless.”
Every day in America, 29 people die as a result of drunken driving crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Frey said it is important for PSUC students to remember that every time they get behind the wheel they be as safe as they possibly can be, for everyone’s sake.
“Drunken driving just puts others at risk and hurts people,” Frey said.
Email Windsor Burkland at firstname.lastname@example.org