“Hey Prince… are you sitting down?”
“No, I’m leaving Douglas Hall… studying for a final… why? What’s going on?”
“I really need you to be sitting down for this… I have some bad news… Marvin is dead.”
“Wait, what?!… Are you f@&kin serious?!…”
I remember this conversation like it was yesterday, but it wasn’t. These words were spoken to me by a good friend in my sophomore year at Morehouse College. Marvin had been driving in his vehicle with an unknown female companion when he attempted to make a sharp turn at a high speed. The car flipped over and Marvin was pronounced dead at the scene – as for the passenger; of course, she managed to walk away unscathed. A lot of questions remained unanswered for Marvin’s family, but as I spoke to a large congregation at his funeral, one thing that I knew in the back of my mind was true… alcohol was definitely involved.
Fast-forward six years later… I’m at a beer festival with another good friend; lots of beer and lots of good food… an awesome Saturday afternoon that ended with a night of networking, spoken word, and probably the best DJ that Vermont has seen. Unlike some people, I’ve always known what my limit is when it comes to drinking. Actually, I learned my limit after college. It also doesn’t help that the older I get, the more that alcohol serves as a sleep aid for me. So, as usual, I’m looking for my good friend because I’m ready to go. I’m waiting out by the car, and I see my friend stumbling out of the party with keys in hand. Finally, I think that I get to go home and sleep. My friend proceeds to walk to the driver’s side of his truck with keys in hand. With a concerned look, I asked him,
“What the hell you think you about to do….? I got you. Hand me the keys.”
Luckily, I stopped drinking maybe four hours beforehand because I guess you can say I saw the writing on the walls. So, at this point, I’m hella-sober.
Slurred speech and all, my friend tells me he is good to drive and that I shouldn’t worry…
“Just get in the car and we will be at our destination shortly.”
He stated this in an incoherent way as only a drunk person could.
“No sir. You are not good to drive, and you are definitely not driving me anywhere… you can barely speak and walk right now. Please, let me have the keys. I’ll drive.”
“I’m completely sober.”
It was very clear to me that my friend wasn’t listening to a word I was saying, so I proceeded to grab the keys from his hand as he attempted to turn the ignition. As I grabbed for the keys, my friend shoved me and told me…
“I’m good… either get in or get left.”
At this point, several conflicting thoughts were going through my head. Do I forcibly take the keys from him and drive him home? After all, I totally feel responsible for this guy now. The other thought was that this is a full-grown adult that I am going back and forth with about not driving while intoxicated. Why would someone put me in such a situation? What I knew for sure was that I definitely was not going to be a passenger in this accident waiting to happen. After several minutes of back and forth, I decided to let my friend prove to himself how sober he really was. Besides, he only lived five minutes away… but anything could happen in five minutes. On the other hand, I refused to argue with a full-grown adult about something that should be common sense to him. I allowed him to drive off while I waited for public transportation.
In exactly five minutes, my ride picked me up to take me home. As we get a little further down the road, I smell the smell of burning rubber. At the same time, I notice a lot of smoke on this dark and winding road. As we traveled a few feet further up the road, I see my friend’s truck in a ditch smashed into a tree. I tell the driver to stop. As I get out and walk toward the truck, a strong feeling of despair and anxiety took me over to the point that my palms became sweaty, and it was difficult for me to even take steps toward the vehicle.
This is all my fault. I can see from the shattered windshield that the airbags had been deployed. This wasn’t looking good at all. I slowly opened the passenger-side door and saw my friend standing on the driver’s side with the door opened, looking scared and confused.
Thank God his life was sparred, but I had no sympathy for his current situation.
Now that I knew he was alright, I couldn’t stop thinking about the lack of judgment he displayed, and if I even wanted someone like this to be considered as a friend of mine. It took a while for me to be back on speaking terms with this friend. It took a lot of soul searching for me to forgive him for even putting me in such a situation.
Now it is 2016, and I am a DUI Defense attorney. I am defending the same people who lack judgment and decide to drink and get behind the wheel. Because of my personal experiences, this makes my job that much more difficult.
You would think that the more DUI cases I handle, the easier it would get… but it doesn’t.
As the weather gets warmer, I know the urge to want to drink and drive increases. Hell, drinking overall seems to increase in the warmer months – that’s just how it happens, but if I could convey one message, it would be this:
Please drink responsibly.
First of all, what your friends may not tell you is that no one wants to be your babysitter for the night because you don’t know how to drink like a responsible adult. What your friends are also not telling you is that no one likes a loud, obnoxious, belligerent drunkard. Not only are you embarrassing yourself, but everyone associated with you, and your smart friends will begin to separate themselves from you for this very reason.
Drinking is meant to be fun and should not end in a night of chaos and despair. If you plan to get wasted (which beyond a certain age, should not be your objective), be smart enough to have a designated driver or catch an Uber.
You will thank yourself and your friends for it later. Your loved ones will thank you.
Know your limit.
As I reflect on this topic, I can’t help but remember how Marvin and I would talk about one day becoming Defense attorneys. Because of the choices he made, that became a dream deferred… and they don’t always come true.
Know your limit — Be responsible.
ABOUT ME: Prince Williams, Esq. is an AVID lawyer with AVID Law Firm, LLC. The premiere accident, DUI, and Criminal Defense firm in Maryland. Call today at 240-561-7433. Let us know how we can help you.