Hopes & Dreams
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Hopes & Dreams

When You Die, You’re Dead

The Accidental Manslaughter Clause

Retrieved from Art-doc

If my husband and I know we plan on drinking we arrange a sober ride home, plan to stay the night wherever we are or we walk. We’re adults making adult choices and we make them before we start drinking.

Drunk driving is wrong. There is no justifying it. No explanation. No excuses. There’s no logical reason to do it. It’s selfish. When you risk your life or the lives of others it’s a violent act.

“A man from Marengo has been charged with operating while intoxicated vehicular homicide for an accident early Sunday morning on Interstate 80 that killed the passenger in his pick-up.

According to the Iowa State Patrol, a semi had been on the shoulder of eastbound I80 near Malcom. It was in the right lane and accelerating to the posted speed limit when the crash happened.”- Radio Iowa- August 14, 2017

Small town Iowa rarely has news stories outside of obituaries, marriage and birth announcements, and community event information. In the year I’ve lived here the only crime story I’ve read was about a kid stealing quarters from the change machine at the laundromat in the town square. Up until that point I wasn’t even aware there’s a laundromat in the town.

The police posted snap shots from the security footage and asked the town folks for assistance in identifying the kid. I was surprised to learn of security cameras. With a .008% crime rate percentage based on the national average I just don’t see a need.

When I read the drunk driving death related story it really hit home, both literally and metaphorically. Metaphorically because it’s small town Iowa and everyone knows each other. I know the people referred to in the Radio Iowa article. From what I’ve seen all the town folks are saddened by this tragic event and it’s the talk everywhere in town. Services will be held over the weekend.

I too feel saddened by this news but it also set off a chain reaction of curiosities. For living out among the corn fields this is big news, but in all 50 states and major cities across the United States it’s a fairy regular thing.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), in 2015 there were 10,265 impaired related deaths in the U.S. 1,132 were passengers and 209 were children between the ages of 0- 14. This data doesn’t break down if they were in the vehicle of the intoxicated driver or struck by an intoxicated driver. Still, that’s a shitload of lives lost.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics three people are killed every two hours in alcohol related highway accidents. Since 2010 they’ve reported an average of 112 million alcohol impaired driving episodes. The estimated cost of these accidents is $37 to $44 million per year in tax payer money across the United States.

There is no comparison between losing lives and money. It’s only money, after all.

If you read the Iowa Radio news article then you know the driver is facing up to 25 years in prison for vehicular homicide. Scientific evidence rules the accident was his fault, but is he 100% responsible for the passenger’s death?

I think there’s unanswered questions that can never be answered making it impossible to determine whether or not he is entirely responsible.

Was she also intoxicated? Was she sober and okay with him driving anyway? Where neither of them aware of the dangers of drunk driving?

I’d like to believe there’s some truth to, Too drunk to know any better. Com’on though, really? I think by the time you reach drinking age you’re fully aware of both the dangers and when you’re too intoxicated to drive and if you do drive? You chose to.

Did she willingly choose to get into the vehicle with him that night? If so, to some extent isn’t she responsible for her death as well?

I get it, this is a horrible topic to talk about. Nowadays we’re so focused on being politically correct we keep our opinions, thoughts and ideas on topics of discussion such as this to ourselves. I am in no way suggestion there shouldn’t be consequences for his actions. There most definitely should be.

What I’m saying is, is he the only one who is accountable for his actions? Unless the passenger is so drunk they’re blacked out, abducted or physically forced in to vehicle they have the ability to say, No. I’m not getting in the vehicle with you driving after you’ve been drinking.

I know this because I’ve said it and I know others who have said it as well.

Here’s what I believe to be an significant comparison to accessory: Say you’re aware of a criminal act, it may be something a family member, or friend, or even gang members are aware you’re planning to do this criminal act. There have been countless court cases over the years that consider those who had knowledge to be accessories to that crime. Ah, but those are premeditated crimes, correct?

If we go by the definition of premeditated from Merriam- Websters definition:

pre·med·i·tate/ prēˈmedətāt/ verb

think out or plan (an action, especially a crime) beforehand.

synonyms:planned, intentional, deliberate, preplanned.

He consumed alcohol. He got into the vehicle and drove. She got into the vehicle with him. As soon as he started consuming alcohol it was premeditated on both their parts.

Realistically however, this woman’s family and friends will view this man as the person who killed their loved one. He’ll most likely always view himself as the person who killed his girlfriend. The media will paint a picture of him as such.

There’s a stream of questions that will never be answered. There’s no evidence to answer them. They’re questions only she could answer. Sure we can make assumptions, ask around and talk to family, neighbors, coworkers or people who saw them that night, or we could ask him, a person who most likely wouldn’t be believed anyway.

He made a choice, but it’s possible she made that same choice too. What if they both got in his pickup that night, they both crashed, they were both the cause of her death?

I don’t know if that’s true. No one does, but let’s say what if it were? It wouldn’t matter. Not to us, her family, the judicial system and probably not to him. We’re going to place all blame on him regardless because that’s what we do.

I understand that if it weren’t an act of force on his part then she has suffered the ultimate consequence for her decision. In which case, he was spared from the accident to take the entire blame for both of them, but if someone chooses to participate shouldn’t we, at the very least, publicly acknowledge that too?

If you like what you’re reading, support my work at patreon.com/erika_sauter.

If you’d like to tip me you can do so via Paypal.

Much love and gratitude, always.

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Dream and Exceed!

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Erika Storms

Erika Storms

I blog to stay sane. erikastorms.substack.com

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