When People Who Should Know Better Don’t

When celebrities, professional athletes and other high profile people are arrested for drunk driving, it is easy to question their intelligence and ability to reason. We use the DrinkingAndDriving.Org Facebook Fan Page primarily to share the latest high profile DUI arrests like Jason Wahler, multiple Miami Dolphins, and others.

A compelling concept to realize about celebs and athletes getting DUIs concerns the very strong and close circle of people around them almost all the time. The support structure in place for a lot of these folks is (like their income) something that most of us can’t relate to. We call it their ‘inner circle’. Some people’s inner circles prevent them from drinking and driving while other people’s inner circles condone it.

You have to ask yourself, how could a sports team allow a player to drive drunk? How could a TV show allow a star to make a public embarrassment of themselves with a DUI? These are inner circles of people who have a financial interest in these stars and athletes. But it still happens. The decision to drink and drive is made and we all keep asking, “How many more times?”

Sometimes famous people get DUIs. Sometimes DUIs make people famous. There has been a rash of DUIs in the news lately of less than famous people. These are people who have jobs linked to public service. People who we would like to think are given job-specific instructions regarding behavior like drunk driving. People whose very jobs lead us expect them to never drink and drive. We’re talking about bus (and school bus) drivers, school supervisors, firemen, and even police! These people, it turns out, have inner circles too. They may be smaller circles, made up of friends, family, and coworkers. But these inner circles are sometimes faced with opportunities to prevent drunk driving. We hear about the ones who don’t seize those opportunities.

This woman's Boss let her drive the school bus Drunk!

This woman's Boss let her drive the school bus Drunk!

Of the multiple drunk bus drivers in the news lately, one stands out because of the dysfunctional inner circle involved. Betty Burden was not the only person to get in trouble when she drove a school bus full of children home in Illinois. Her boss, Vincente Ramirez is in hot water too for KNOWINGLY ALLOWING HER TO COMPLETE HER SHIFT WHILE DRUNK. When the enabler in one’s inner circle is the Boss, it can be difficult for the rest of the inner circle to be effective. Two of Burden’s co-workers knew she was drinking and driving on the job. Both expressed their concerns to Ramirez. It appears Ramirez failed to seize this opportunity. If drunk driving is a crime, this was conspiracy to commit a crime! I don’t think this will be the last time we hear of conspiracy to drive drunk.

Not just a drunk driver with a gun;  this is a drunk driver with a gun who can arrest you for drunk driving!

Not just a drunk driver with a gun; this is a drunk driver with a gun who can arrest you for drunk driving!

Police officers who commit the same crimes they are trained and paid to arrest others for are a form of “dirty cop”. We hold Police officers to a higher standard. We find the thought of an on duty, armed policeman driving his police car while drunk repugnant. But it can happen despite the legendary inner circle that police officers maintain. I would like to think this guy showed up to work sober and began his drinking while on duty. I want to think that because if he showed up drunk and was allowed to drive away, then we have another messed up inner circle! And more conspirators!

Superintendent by day; Bar hopper at night!

Superintendent by day; Bar hopper at night!

There have been a couple of educators busted for DUI lately too! It is surprising when this happens because it should be second nature to an educator to avoid driving under the influence. One in particular, Ronnie Furniss of Martinsville, Indiana just ditched his inner circle entirely to do a little bar hopping in a school-provided car! Not smart, Mr. Furniss!!!

We all have our own inner circles and we are each a part of someone else’s inner circle. Being a part of an inner circle is, at times, a tremendous responsibility. In all the cases above, nobody was killed. But we know how things could have turned out. And we know that at least some of these were immediately preventable by inner circles.

Think about your inner circle and other inner circles that you are part of. Take it seriously. There is no figure for how many times inner circles have protected somebody from driving drunk. It is a gray statistic, which cannot be quantified. Still, if we strengthen and respect our inner circles, and we really step up when we need to, this gray statistic can begin to have a bigger impact on the cold, hard numbers of arrests and fatalities attributed to drunk driving every year. We can all make a difference.

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Allen Porter
Dedicated to teaching and inspiring the prevention of drunk driving.

4 Responses

  1. DUI Attorney Virginia
    DUI Attorney Virginia August 20, 2012 at 6:22 am |

    there needs to be more education and prevention methods.

  2. John Kearns
    John Kearns July 26, 2011 at 5:48 pm |

    Good people making bad decisions. No rational person sets out to go drinking, get drunk & then drive.

  3. drunk driving
    drunk driving April 6, 2010 at 10:15 am |

    You know just because they are celebrities and athletes doesn’t mean that they are any different form us. They make bad decisions too. The only problem is they have cameras fallowing them around everywhere. Celebrities are the same imperfect humans as all of us no different. In reality they aren’t any more special then we are.


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