Tuesday, December 26, 2000
The refrain of champagne corks popping during a New Year's Eve party is almost as common as the refrain of "Auld Lang Syne."
Too often, however, those same refrains are followed later in the evening or early the next morning by verses of metal grinding together, shattering glass, improvisational wails of pain and shock and the chorus of emergency sirens.
New Year's Eve and drinking and driving is an unfortunate tradition almost everywhere you go. It is also an irresponsible, selfish act that can not be tolerated.
On paper, according to Colorado law, your first DUI in five years can cost you five days to a year in jail and $300 to $1,000 in fines.
The prison terms and fines obviously increase with the severity of the crime.
But no matter what the cost in fines and prison terms, the ultimate price can never be repaid.
In Colorado, between 6 p.m. on Dec. 31, 1998, and Jan. 4, 1999, there were 354 traffic fatalities, with 190 alcohol-related. That means 53.8 percent of deaths were alcohol-related. That means 190 lives that were taken needlessly.
That doesn't take into account the hundreds of additional alcohol-related crashes that resulted in serious injury.
Back in October, during Steamboat Springs High School Red Ribbon Week, students heard from Lance Pohlman, who had gotten behind the wheel after drinking. He killed a girl and injured another so badly she had to have both of her hips replaced.
He'll likely have to pay up to $750,000 as a result of a civil lawsuit, but what Pohlman said he would pay any amount for is one night's sleep with a clear conscience, one night's sleep without hearing "the most awful, blood-curdling scream you can possibly imagine."
As the song "Auld Lang Syne" goes:
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
There is one acquaintance Pohlman wishes he could forget, and he never even met her.
We at the Steamboat Pilot wish you the best in 2001 and that each acquaintance you make to be safe and well met.
Happy New Year!