The Daily Gamecock

Column: It's 2024. Drunk driving is unacceptable

<p>A photo illustration of keys surrounded by alcoholic beverages on Feb. 1, 2024. Three hundred and thirty-five people died in 2022 due to impaired driving in South Carolina.</p>
A photo illustration of keys surrounded by alcoholic beverages on Feb. 1, 2024. Three hundred and thirty-five people died in 2022 due to impaired driving in South Carolina.

There is no reason for impaired driving to still be an issue in 2024. There are a multitude of resources available to ensure that driving while intoxicated is not an option. There are no excuses, and educating oneself on its dangers and alternatives is crucial. 

335 people died in 2022 due to driving under the influence in South Carolina. That is 335 people too many.

Regardless if it’s due to alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription medication, a DUI is a DUI.

"(Substances) will impair you just like alcohol will,” USCPD Sergeant Kyle Gilbert said.

There are too many students that have the thought process of, "I haven't had that much to drink, and I only live a few miles away. It'll be fine." This mentality could ruin lives, so is it worth not taking precautions and possibly killing themselves or others? 

It doesn’t take much alcohol to get to South Carolina's illegal driving limit, which is a blood alcohol content (BAC) at or above 0.08%. The number of drinks that it takes to get there depends on a variety of factors, such as a person’s sex, weight, metabolism and their previous food consumption. Two to four drinks in an hour will make most drinkers hit that threshold, according to the University of Arizona.

Marijuana usage can also result in a DUI. There is a misconception that marijuana can wear off after about two hours, but it can last in your system for up to 24 hours. 

DUIs can land you in a serious amount of issues, such as getting arrested, fines, getting your license suspended, probation and paying for an unfavorable insurance policy, which can double or triple your premiums, according to VeryWell Mind.

"(Driving impaired is) a choice that individuals are consciously making," Gilbert said. "Driving under the influence is 100% preventable."

There are many resources that can be used to combat the possibility of driving while inebriated, which is especially important in a metropolitan area such as Columbia, which has dozens of bars and breweries.

Having a designated driver or using a ride share app are the best options if one knows they will be partaking in any type of substance usage. Uber, Lyft or GroupMe chats, such as Safe Rides, are easy ways to find a ride to and from one's designated location. It takes seconds to order a ride, and most of the time they're inexpensive. 

If someone finds themselves drinking after they have already driven their car to their location, Gilbert said that they can call Schroeder's Towing, a local towing company which will provide a ride home and tow their car back for an inexpensive rate. 

When one is doing all the right things but suspects another driver on the road is driving under the influence, Gilbert advises to drive defensively by keeping a safe distance between other cars, scanning your surroundings and expecting the unexpected. The suspected driver may be swerving, riding on the curb and/or erratically breaking. Don’t hesitate to call 911 if you feel like someone may be driving under the influence. You could potentially save a life.

Calling or sending a message using the RAVE Guardian app is a key resource for USC students to ensure they are keeping themselves safe. If you are on or around campus and feeling unsafe, you can call or text using the app, and an officer from USCPD will escort you to your destination. Don't hesitate to call for help, as these resources were established for a reason. 

There are zero excuses to drive impaired, and the risks of doing so are endless. 

“If everybody did what they were supposed to, we would have zero DUI arrests every year because people were making smart choices,” Gilbert said.

Think about what the night entails, and if substances are involved, plan rides accordingly. If you find yourself intoxicated without a plan, take precautions and use the bountiful amount of resources available. When in doubt, don't get behind the wheel. It's better to be safe than sorry.