Here's the Scoop: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving (Blog)

A recovering alcoholic sheds light on the perils of driving while impaired.

Okay, here I go. I’m finally doing it. I’m starting my blog. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but like a typical alcoholic, I’ve got self-esteem issues. Can I really do this? Do I really have anything valuable enough to
say in a blog every week? 

To ease myself into the process, I thought I’d start with something obvious, especially for this time of year: a public service announcement (PSA) campaign about drunk driving. This one, called Project Roadblock, centers around a collection of TV spots sharing the theme “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.” 

Among my favorite spots is “Bad Daters,” featuring a young man and woman on their first date, which goes from awkward to terrible as the man allows the woman to pay for dinner, requires that she walk to his house in her high heels because he no longer has a car, and then turns out to live with his mom—all because he got busted for buzzed driving, which can cost you up to $10,000 in fines, legal fees and increased insurance rates. The memorable tagline: Buzzed. Busted. Broke.

Why the focus on “buzzed driving?”

Previous campaigns—including the famous Friends Don't Let Friends Drive
campaign—have been highly successful: Research showed that
in 1998, 62 percent of Americans exposed to that ad had personally intervened to stop someone from driving drunk. Yet alcohol-related driving deaths steadily
increased from the late ’90s on; many intoxicated drivers now claimed to be
merely “buzzed” and still insisted on taking the wheel. In 2010, one person
every 51 minutes—10,228 in all—lost their lives in crashes involving drivers
with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, according to NHTSA. Hence
the new campaign, educating the public that even a few drinks can impair

On the social media front, there are a variety of great pieces of artwork on the NHTSA Facebook page

I’m partial to a shot of a nice-looking young woman dressed in a Santa suit sitting in the back of a cop car with a headline that reads “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Jail Time.”  Maybe it’s because I can relate—you see I was that young woman in the cop car (sans the Santa suit) some 25 years ago and trust me it’s an even worse picture than the one they portray in their photo. I was fortunate enough to walk away from my horrific situation without having hurt anyone; there was no accident or incident other than I was pulled over and the policeman discovered that I had been drinking and he thankfully took me off the road…in handcuffs.  I wasn’t thankful at the time, of course, but I am now! (I will be writing a separate post about my DUI experience. I want to make sure I am emphasizing the fact that this is a very serious offense.)

There’s also an interactive website, http://buzzeddriving.adcouncil.org, where visitors are asked to take a pledge not to drive while buzzed, watch one young woman’s story about the consequences of buzzed driving, and play the interactive game, “Spot the Differences.”

In addition, text messaging is encouraged—but not while driving, of course—
starting at the broadcaster level, where television personalities are asked to
“make these holidays as safe as possible by sending a ‘Buzzed
Driving is Drunk Driving…Pass it On!’
text message” to their viewers during
the holiday season. And finally, everyone is invited to follow the campaign on the NHTSA Twitter page and “Use the hash tag #buzzeddriving where appropriate and when character limits allow!”

Brought to you by the Ad Council, TVB, which is the trade association for America’s commercial broadcast TV industry, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the campaign runs during the week of Dec. 26 and culminates with a concentrated roadblock of on-air spots, texts, and tweets lead up to New Year’s Eve.  (This is apparently one of the deadliest auto-fatality weeks of the year.)     

It is beginning to look a lot like New Year’s Eve. But I hope that with this eye-catching PSA campaign, this will look a lot less like a season of buzzed driving.

Alison Hill is a local entrepreneur/publicist, loving wife and Mom, and a recovering alcoholic with a passion for the people who share her disease.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

JustUs December 27, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Instead of DUI checkpoints I think it would be a great idea to have cops do sting operations on bars by parking an undercover car in the parking lot and observing obvious drunks exiting the door and staggering to their cars then driving away. Radio a patrol car waiting to pull them over. This way it would avoid forcing hundreds of innocent law-abiding people to pull to the side of the road for a forced police interrogation and vehicle search in order to catch one drunk. Go target the drunks at the bars instead of targeting obedient law-abiding people minding their own business. It is a much more efficient and effective way to take drunks off the road. If the government wanted to save lives - this is exactly what they would do instead of infringing upon the rights of good, law-abiding citizens. But it's not about saving live - it's all about money and power. Let's face the facts, ok?
Alison Hill December 27, 2012 at 03:30 AM
Thanks for sharing. That's a very interesting and obvious concept. I wonder why it's never been tried before. I will ask around and perhaps do a follow-up post about it. Great topic!
JustUs December 27, 2012 at 06:09 AM
Alison, the government officials and politicians forbid it because it makes the bar owners mad. It reduces customer volume if words gets around that the cops are targeting the bars to pick off drunk drivers. So it's a commerce thing. They don't want to harass and anger the business owner. But they don't bat an eye at harassing and angering the law-abiding motorists who have done nothing wrong but are caught in the DUI checkpoint net and must tolerate police interrogations and vehicle searches. Don't let them tell you that police surveilling bars for drunks exiting the doors is 'entrapment' either. It's no more entrapment than the police staking out a bank waiting for a robber to come out with a bagful of loot. That's not entrapment. Neither is catching a drunk coming out of a bar and watching him get into his car and drive away. I just think it's awful for good law-abiding American citizens to be subjected to these checkpoints. It's something I would expect to happen in North Korea. Not in America. If they want to catch drunks they should go to where the drunks hang out. That's common sense.
TVOR December 27, 2012 at 06:05 PM
"must tolerate police interrogations and vehicle searches" I find this statement to be somewhat exxagerated. I have driven through many DUI checkpoints and the most I have ever been asked is for my license and have I had anything to drink. I agree there are more effective ways to do DUI enforcement but I have never felt put out by what happens at a DUI checkpoint.
JustUs December 27, 2012 at 06:25 PM
The fact that they have the power to force an obedient law-abiding citizen to pull to the side of the road for what amounts to a police interrogation (questions you must answer or get further harassed) and a search (cursory or full-blown) speaks for itself. Instead of harassing innocent citizens they should harass drunks exiting bars and entering their cars or harass the bar owner who gives them too much liquor. Let's focus on the REAL problem here. That's my point. If a cop knocked on your front door and demanded not to search your own home without a warrant - but only 2 rooms - would that make you feel better about letting him into your house? Just curious?
Kathi December 27, 2012 at 08:51 PM
How about taking a look at Happy Hour promotions? That has always seemed to me like an invitation to have people driving away impaired. I suppose they think they will just have a drink or 2 & not be drunk, but of course impairment doesn't suddenly start at .08. It seems to me that a big problem is the association between drinking & having fun. The guy who killed Nick Adenhart & his friends reportedly "just wanted to have some fun." Is life so bad that people have to get a little buzzed to "have fun?" Alcohol is served readily at restaurants, bars, sporting events, etc where people then drive home. Its a given that many of them will be at least partly buzzed. Most will probably get home, but if confronted by a situation requiring quick decision making & action they may well not be up to it. So it seems that because so many do drink & drive, there is a tolerance for it as long as the person isn't totally smashed.
Kathi December 27, 2012 at 08:59 PM
We are all good at kidding ourselves & rationalizing things we do. & when impaired a bit either by being overly tired or whatever or by drink, our ability to discern our impairment decreases. The designated driver program was supposed to address this, but how is that working? We hear of designated drivers who were just less drunk than their companions. Or maybe more so as was reportedly the case w the guy who killed Adenhart where reportedly his companion was supposed to be the designated driver but was too drunk so they had the other guy drive & killed people. & what happened to holding those who served alcohol to the drunk driver responsible? I seem to remember that changing so they are off the hook--even though they may promote drinking to excess!
JustUs December 27, 2012 at 11:39 PM
kathi- All good points. Celebrations in America are all centered around booze. Although it's not as bad as it used to be, if one goes to a wedding, Christmas or New Year's party, Superbowl party, holiday party (4th of July), etc....and doesn't have an alcoholic drink in their hand it's look upon as odd. People shouldn't have to drink to have fun. Besides, when the booze starts to flow and inhibitions are lowered bad things tend to happen. I am not for the prohibition of booze (which was proven not to work) but non-drinkers should not be punished for the actions of a drinkers on the roadways by being forced to stop and submit to police actions at DUI checkpoints. Such requirements are antithetical to the concept of what America was supposed to stand for. If they want to punish drunk driving then focus on the drunks and leave the rest of us alone!
SPB December 28, 2012 at 02:13 AM
The city should have those red trolly things make runs around town. Designate one for each neighborhood and have them make runs to the mall / old town / wineries. People can then stagger home as needed. Cheaper than a taxi and it might just save some lives.
Charles December 28, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Got an extra few hundred million bucks laying around? Interested in watching 5% capacity trolleys cruising around town?
TVOR December 29, 2012 at 02:22 AM
The thing is if you want a license to drive a car you must agree to be subject to this scrutiny. Driving is a privelage in our country.
JustUs December 29, 2012 at 03:57 AM
Being subject to violations of civil rights should not be a condition to obtaining a driver's license or operating a motor vehicle. That's a stupid as claiming that visiting a beach is a privilege and in order to do it one must consent to have all his or her belongings searched by the authorities in order to access the beach. Makes zero sense. Why aren't the bar owners subject to the same inconveniences as motorists? You know, like having sting operations where officers enter the bar and force everyone to take a breathyizer test to determine whether the bartender overserved alcohol to them and conspired to promote drunkeness in public.
SPB December 31, 2012 at 05:46 PM
a hundred million dollars to have some city trollys (that are already built) run around for a few extra hours a day on weekends? Right. That one thing will totally bury us... Or maybe you might see fewer people drinking and driving. Also, PARTY TROLLY!
JustUs December 31, 2012 at 06:01 PM
SPB, Catching drunk drivers is a big business. Why would they want to reduce their clientele with free trolley service on New Year's Eve? The cops have to bring in lots of revenue to continue getting those big OT checks and pensions. Follow the money, dude! :)
LBV Collins December 31, 2012 at 06:34 PM
I like SPB's Party Trolly idea. The City should at least try it on holiday weekends when lots of drinking is expected. (How about tonight?) As for generating revenues from drunkards, JustUs, I suggest that undercover officers ride the Party Trolley... and arrest anyone who is publicly intoxicated (and being drunk and disorderly). Imagine: Officers get overtime pay, partiers can drink and don't have to drive, and belligerent drunks get to spend a night in jail and pay a fine. Strikes me as a win-win-win.
YoMomma January 03, 2013 at 06:45 AM
party trolly har har har......
TVOR January 05, 2013 at 05:31 PM
Justus, there are many public places where one must subject themselves to scrutiny before being allowed to enter. How about most government buildings for an example? If you don't like how the law reads then start an effort to change it.
JustUs January 05, 2013 at 05:42 PM
TVOR, sorry dude. Forcing innocent taxpayer motorists who have done absolutely nothing wrong to pull to the side of the road for police action (interrogation and search) is a violation of civil liberties on it's face. You are promoting the slippery slope. So why not let cops come to your home and do a warrantless 'health and safety' search for the good of you and your family? If they could find one illegal item or safety violation that could save ONE LIFE - wouldn't it all be worth it, TVOR??? heh. Besides, if you've got nothing to hide - why would you oppose it??? Is that the sort of society you want to live in, TVOR. Not me. If I wanted to live in a society like that I'd move to North Korea. You are promoting a slippery slope that will eventually turn us into North Korea. Be careful what you wish for, dude.
Amanda Godinez February 14, 2013 at 04:04 AM
This is such an important topic. My uncle is a heavy drinker so whenever he drinks "a little", he chooses to drive himself home. It is so sad to know that if he were to get into a car accident and harm someone else in the process, he could be sent to jail for a long time. People sometimes think that they are invincible and stuff like that wouldn't happen to them. I think this is especially for young college students. I am a Communications major at Cal State Fullerton and know a lot of people who drink. Drinking responsible is what matters and I truly believe that there can never be too many anti-drinking and driving campaigns.


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