A Better Solution to DUI’s and Deaths

It’s 9 o’clock on a Thursday night in the dead of winter and a student, Mitch, has just gotten out of a three-hour business lecture.

Walking into his house, Mitch is pleased to see that everyone is ready to go out. Unfortunately, the only party they’ve heard about is a brutal fifteen-minute walk through the ice and snow.

“But it’s only a three-minute drive,” he thinks. Soon enough, seven people pack into his little blue Camry and head a few miles downtown to the party.

There, Mitch has a few stiff drinks, funnels a beer, and has a glass of cheap whiskey. All of a sudden the police show up and everyone is kicked out of the house.

Mitch faces a dilemma. It’s only eleven o’clock and he does not have time to sober up like he had originally planned. It’s freezing. No one wants to walk, especially not Mitch…

What do you think would most commonly happen next? What are Mitch’s options here? He could leave the car behind, risk a ticket and walk home through the frigid weather.

Or, he could drive his friends back to his house, blasting the heat the entire way, while risking his and their lives, not to mention jail time. Neither seem particularly appealing.

What if there was a third option, one where he could get home safely with his car and his friends without having to drive drunk? It turns out that such an option is entirely possible.

Throughout a number of regions in Quebec there is a service, called “Zero Tolerance,” which provides its members with this alternative. By paying a fifteen-dollar annual membership you are entitled to call “Zero Tolerance” from any participating area at any hour.

Approximately fifteen minutes later, two service employees will arrive at the address provided in one of their “Zero Tolerance” assistance cars. One of the employees will take your keys, ask you to get in the passenger seat of your car and drive you home safely. The second employee follows directly behind you in the “Zero Tolerance” service vehicle.

Once you and your car have reached the house, both employees will drive off together, back to their assigned posts of the night to help more members that need to be driven home safely.

UVM should provide a service similar to Quebec’s “Zero Tolerance.” If our university can devote large sums of money to hiring police to roam around Redstone with their yellow jackets and walkie-talkies to prevent 4/20 rioting, perhaps they could set aside a few extra dollars to protect their students against a graver issue which has the potential to generate much more negative publicity, taking lives rather than brain cells.

It is clear that no matter how much time and money is spent trying to inform students of the dangers and penalties that come with drunk driving, a significant number will continue to drive under the influence.

It is time to find a solution. Instead of punishing students who have already made the decision to drive drunk, perhaps we should try to prevent them from getting in the driver’s seat in the first place.

If we make a “Zero Tolerance” service available to students, then we can provide them with a sensible alternative to drunk driving and perhaps save a few lives.