By Amanda Slowikowski
Driving under the influence is an all too common practice on the Outer Banks. Almost every Monday I hear someone talk about how drunk, or how high, they got this weekend and made the decision to drive anyway. While most students here have the mentality that they can get away with impaired driving and that there will be no consequences, this is not true.
Let me set a scene for you.
A young woman, in her twenties, is driving home from a friend’s house. A man, drunk and high on PCP (phencycliaine), is recklessly driving when he comes to an intersection. Failing to notice the red light, he drives through the intersection, hitting the car of the young woman. She is thrown out of the car onto the pavement, dead by the time paramedics reach the scene.
This may seem like another made up story created to scare kids out of driving while impaired, as it should, but for me this story is very real.
Amy Slowikowski was the star of Kent State’s women’s basketball team, a body builder and an all around wonderful person. Unfortunately I have no memory of her because she was taken away a week before I turned three years old. Amy Slowikowski, my aunt, was murdered at the age of 27 by a man who felt that he was above obeying the law and thought that it was perfectly acceptable to drive drunk while also high on PCP.
This was not his first offense, yet he was only sentenced to five to 15 years in prison. He’s been released from jail, but I hope not a day goes by that he doesn’t think about what he did. His actions, which may have been seemingly innocent to him, crushed my family.
Driving under the influence is not just a decision that affects the person who chooses to drive in such a state, but those who are sharing the road as well. The man that killed my aunt was not thinking of anyone but himself at that time, not taking into consideration how his actions could impact others. My family has been torn apart by that man’s total disregard for laws and other people’s lives. I have seen so much pain in my grandmother’s eyes as she recounts childhood stories of her lost daughter. Tears form in my father’s eyes as he thinks of his little sister who never got to see the age of 30. My eyes well with tears when I think of the woman I should have gotten the chance to know, and when I think of the pain my family members struggle with on a daily basis.
This is not just a tale warning about the dangers of drunk driving. It is a very real, very personal account of the destruction caused by someone driving under the influence. In 1996, the year my aunt was killed, 17,749 people died due to alcohol related incidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The next time you think about driving under the influence of anything, or see a person about to make that mistake, think about the possibly deadly consequences. It’s not just a ticket from a police officer or a suspended license, it’s protecting yourself and other drivers. Ruining your life, or someone else’s is not worth the risk.