DUI with Kids in the Car Reveal Some Disturbing Numbers and Actions
By: Mary Ann Pekara
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs by one's self is bad enough when considering that such actions endanger not only the impaired driver but also all other people on or near the road. With that said, drunk driving becomes even more worrisome and hard to accept when impaired drivers do so with their kids in the car.
Take the case of a West Hartford, Connecticut woman from last week. Tammy Adams, age 44, was charged with DUI on October 7th after being involved in a minor accident in South Windsor.
Adams had both of her children in the car with her at the time of the accident, and a breathalyzer test later revealed that her blood alcohol content(BAC)was four times the state's legal limit. It is of course illegal to be driving or operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher not only under Connecticut DUI law but also the DUI laws in the 49 other states.
Luckily, Adams' children and no one else suffered serious personal injuries in the car accident. The children are now under the care of family members of Adams, who faces several charges, including risk of injury to a minor.
Regardless of what DUI penalties are placed on her, Adams should feel blessed that she did not hurt her children or anybody else after getting behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated and putting their safety in jeopardy.
The stats for DUI with kids in the car truly reveal just how fortunate Adams was in this instance.
- A 2004 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 2,335 children were killed in drunk driving accidents between 1997 and 2002. Of those children who were killed, 68 percent of them were in a vehicle driven by an impaired driver.
- The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) detailed in 2003 how motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of death for children between the ages of two and 14. With that said, the NHTSA found in 2004 that 21 percent of the children who were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2003 were involved in drunk driving accidents. Approximately, 47 percent (209) of those kids were passengers in vehicles in which the driver was DUI.
For years, organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have been calling for legislation to boost the DUI penalties for driving drunk with kids in the vehicle. Some states have specifically made fighting DUI with children in the car a top priority.
Earlier this year, legislation making first-time DUI offenders with children in their car susceptible to six months in jail was signed into Wyoming DUI law. As for people who are twice convicted of DUI with kids in the car, they would be subject to a felony punishable by up to five years in prison under this new Wyoming DUI law.
And just last month in North Carolina, a woman who was found to be DUI with four children in her vehicle was charged with misdemeanor child abuse and a child restraint violation in addition her other charges. Sadly, none of the children had any seatbelts or other form of restraint on them.
This fact in Sherril Garner's North Carolina DUI case is especially disturbing when looking at the NHTSA stats from 2004. Those stats indicate that of the 7,810 children involved in fatal car accidents in 2004, 29 percent were unrestrained. Among those children who were fatally injured, 50 percent of them were unrestrained!
With these numbers, DUI penalties and the dangers of drunk driving in mind, it does not take a rocket scientist to realize that driving drunk with kids in the vehicle is a losing proposition. Sadly, some parents, guardians and other "adult" figures continue to do it, despite what common sense and the most basic level of parental responsibility would dictate.