The stereotypical drunk driver is usually young, often male, and is typically driving alone or with other people his age. Rarely are drunk drivers assumed to be mothers or, heaven forbid, grandmothers.
The truth, however, is that all sorts of people are arrested for drunk driving every day. And, while young males are arrested for DUIs more often than any other age bracket, they do not hold a monopoly on driving under the influence of alcohol.
This reality was recently on display in Lancaster, California, where a grandmother of three was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol while she had three of her grandchildren in her car.
According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, 55-year-old Marie Shipley will soon make her first appearance in a Los Angeles County courtroom as she faces felony DUI charges for the disturbing incident.
Sources indicate that Shipley was arrested after driving drunk on a Monday afternoon while transporting three grandsons, aged 7, 11, and 13, from a local park.
While she was allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol, the boys began arguing, and at least one of her grandsons jumped out of the car while it was moving.
According to the police report from the incident, the boy who jumped out of the car attempted to re-enter the vehicle, but Shipley sped away, preventing him from getting back into the car. Eventually, Shipley slowed down and took the boy home after he started crying.
Shipley’s daughter later took the boy to the hospital, where he had treatment for minor injuries sustained during the incident.
While this episode seems laughable (despite its potentially severe consequences), incidents of elderly drunk driving are fairly commonplace. In addition, alcohol abuse by older Americans is often ignored and untreated.
As people age, they grow increasingly susceptible to the negative effects of alcohol. This increased sensitivity, combined with the natural loss of reflexes that occurs with aging, can sometimes have serious effects for older drivers.
While a driver may have been able to drive after a few glasses of wine in his or her younger days, that same amount of alcohol might render the person unable to drive responsibly in later years.
As the American population continues to grow older, incidents of drunk driving among older drivers may become more of a public hazard.
Of course, many drivers who operate a car under the influence of alcohol at least have the decency to leave children out of the car. And, if they do drive children, they usually don’t play games where the children are leaping in and out of a moving vehicle.
So, it seems safe to say that Shipley’s actions, while abhorrent, don’t represent typical behavior amongst older drivers.