OPINION: Students should not drink and drive this Saturday

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The wristbands, the green, the endless flow of people in and out of liquor stores … we get it. You’re getting wasted this Saturday in celebration of Fake Patty’s Day – our early local celebration of St. Patrick’s Day before students head off for spring break.

I don’t care what you do. You can blackout before 11 a.m. You can hook up with an ex or shamefully pee your pants in a stranger’s bed. One thing no one should tolerate or even think about doing, though, is getting behind the wheel of a car after they’ve been drinking.

There were 21 DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs) arrests made last year on this very same holiday, according to the Riley County Police Department. Twenty-one DUIs in one day? The number alone makes me want to curl up in my apartment with an adult beverage and not come out until Sunday.

That being said, I refuse to be confined to my apartment because some idiot thinks they can take on the road with a couple of drinks in their system. So listen up.

Alternatives

Anyone who thinks they can use the long walk home as an excuse for driving their car can stop right there. For just $5-$10, the Morale Welfare and Recreation Organization of Fort Riley, Kansas is offering those who are intoxicated sober rides. A shuttle will travel back and forth from Aggieville to drop off and pick up points. The service starts at 5 p.m. and will end at 2:15 a.m. – a fairly random time, but enough for students to get hammered and stay safe on their journey home.

The Flint Hills Area Transportation Agency is another option for those traveling on Saturday. The better news? Students or faculty and staff with a K-State ID card get to ride for free. Those without a K-State ID card can ride for dirt cheap: adults are $1 and youth from 6-18 years of age are 50 cents.

Consequences

The most students will have to pay for a ride, whether it be a taxi service or some other free alternatives offered around the city, is around $10. This is the equivalent to a sandwich or a couple of beers. Think you can’t afford the free safe ride? Think again. DUIs cost thousands of dollars and will haunt you for the rest of your life.

According to K-State’s website, the minimum fine for a DUI conviction is $750. Jail time can range from 48 hours to 6 months, and an additional 100 hours of community service can be tacked on to the already steep punishment.

Other consequences include having to successfully complete an alcohol and drug information school or treatment, as well as action being taken against your driving privileges. These consequences are just for first-time offenders. The consequences gets worst as the number of convictions rises.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 10,322 people were killed in alcohol-impaired crashes in 2012, accounting for nearly one-third (31 percent) of all traffic-related deaths in the U.S. I could go on and on about the statistics in regards to alcohol-related incidents, like how 239 child deaths were caused in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. Don’t be another terrible statistic.

Big Brother is watching you

Nobody likes to be pestered by the police. They are, though, here to help on Saturday. Making sure we are safe and keeping Aggieville relatively clean (of people and trash) are just a few of the jobs the Riley County Police Department and outside law enforcement agencies will be undertaking this weekend.

Several officers on foot, bikes and vehicles will be on the lookout for those of you choosing to drive under the influence. Although there will be no DUI check point this Saturday, this shouldn’t encourage anyone into thinking they can get away with drinking and driving. Even if you do escape law enforcement, the likelihood of you damaging your car or other property (or, even worse, yourself and others) is higher when under the influence.

Joining the RCPD will be officers from around the state. In a news release, the department thanked the Emporia Police Department, Hays Police Department, Junction City Police Department, Kansas Highway Patrol, Lyon County Sheriff’s Office and the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance on this holiday.

Fake Patty’s Day is not a holiday to be spent in the back of a police car, a jail cell or (in the worst case scenario) entangled in a metal pile of debris that used to be your car. The holiday brings in hundreds of outsiders, and it is not meant to be centered just around the idea of getting obliterated. Be careful, be safe and most of all, stay away from driving your car.

Kelly Iverson is a senior in mass communications.

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