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Kehoe: As a young woman headed out to NYE events, I worry about how alcohol impacts safety of others

photo of author discussing alocohol
Athena Kehoe (above) is a student at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.
By Athena Kehoe | Point of View

As a 21-year-old ASU student, I’m like many kids my age looking forward to relaxing but having fun during winter break.

While I have been trying to figure out my New Year’s plans, I’m also thinking about being with my friends, and I worry about one of us getting hurt or being reckless because drunk driving is most prevalent during holidays.

I also recommend my friends to always carry something on them to protect them like pepper spray, but I learned not all establishments will allow you to enter with pepper spray.

One thing that happened to me recently was a bouncer didn’t allow me to bring my pepper spray into the bar, even if I kept it in my purse. This bothered me because I didn’t want to give it away, but I also understood why it could be dangerous.

I spoke with Marc Lamber, a personal injury attorney at Fennemore, about my situation.

I wondered if the bouncer took my pepper spray and didn’t give it back, and, God forbid, something happens to me when I leave the bar, could I go back and sue the bar? Mr. Lamber explained this would not be an easy process for me because the bar has the right to deny me entrance with pepper spray.

Although frustrating, I could always go to a different bar and see if they would allow me to enter with my pepper spray in my purse.

I have experienced a lot of people assuming it’s better to smoke marijuana and drive, because it affects them differently than drinking and driving. At the end of the day, Mr. Lamber said it is not lawful to get behind the wheel impaired. It isn’t about which drug is worse. Any drug will impact your ability to react to a situation. This is something that needs to be talked about more because with recreational marijuana becoming legalized in many states, people might assume it’s a better choice to smoke marijuana and drive, which is not the case.

I have to say something about rideshare companies, especially as we are about to hit New Year’s Eve.

Rideshares are obviously a great option to take if you’re planning on drinking on New Year’s, but that doesn’t mean I think it’s always a safe option. I am basically trusting a complete stranger to bring me to my destination safely. Mr. Lamber told me that before getting into the vehicle, I should make sure that the car’s license matches what it says in the app and that me and the driver are on the same page about any added stops along the way. Mr. Lamber said the most important thing is to pre-plan the night.

Drinking and driving, and drug use and driving make me nervous, especially on New Year’s Eve. Mr. Lamber stressed how important it is to educate others about this and that no matter what, nobody should be getting behind a wheel impaired. Even if you think you are sober enough, that does not justify any accidents that you cause that could change lives forever in a horrible way.

As I plan to celebrate New Year’s with my friends, I am making it clear that I don’t want any of us to risk contributing to the fatalities caused by drunk drivers, and I hope you do, too.

Editor’s Note: Athena Kehoe is a student at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.

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