I’ve been meaning to write for a while but last night finally got me here. After another big fight with my wife please tell me how I get her to stop drinking and driving.
She goes out occasionally with friends and comes home drunk with the car. I always tell her to please take a cab but she always drives anyway.
Last night she arrived home wasted and we got into it. I’m very worried. She doesn’t drink very often but when she goes out with this group it’s always the same thing. Last night she accused me of trying to “control her” and “ruin her nights out.”
Hardly. I know she wants to blow off steam and get away from me and the kids sometimes. I just don’t want her to get arrested or hurt herself or someone else.
Fed Up in Federal Way
Dear Fed Up:
Oh boy. This is a really good question, especially today as we start the last holiday weekend of the summer: a notorious time for drunk driving.
Thank you for speaking with me on the phone this morning. I asked if I could speak with your wife but she’s still sleeping off her latest bender. Poor thing.
I’m not going to address the question many readers will be quick to ask: is this woman an alcoholic? My conversation with you convinced me she is not, but diagnosing excessive drinking in others is beyond my pay grade and would be exceptionally ironic.
She may not be a “drunk,” but she is a habitual “drunk driver.” That is very dangerous territory.
We’ve All Done It
Drinking and driving is common and I wager that every single pair of eyes on this blog right now have been bloodshot, watery and weary as they attempted to find their way home after one too many Pinot Grigios.
One of the big problems posed by alcohol is impairment of our judgment. When we drink, we find ourselves underestimating our buzz factor while overestimating our driving skills. If I had a dollar for every time I should have grabbed a cab and didn’t I’d have enough singles to make it rain at the strip club.
Most of us who have not had a DUII are just damn lucky. Your wife is damn lucky but sooner or later her luck will likely change.
What Changed for Me
There were several reasons I became much more strict about drinking and driving over the past few years, but a few things in particular really brought this issue into focus for me:
- Many counties are now selling mugshots to online shaming outlets and publicizing DUII arrests. This is regardless of how you plead to the charge or whether you are actually convicted. As I make a new living writing advice and pissing off the Divorce Industrial Complex, I cannot afford the humiliation and scorn that would be heaped upon me were I to find myself in this pickle.
- I received a letter from a woman whose daughter had been killed by a drunk driver. She later chose not to have me publish her letter but her story was incredibly moving. “Betsy,” if you are reading this now and have reconsidered, please let me know.
- As part of some research I’m doing on another project, I watched several DUII arrest videos. I imagined myself struggling pathetically through the tests, which by the way look really fucking hard. I’m not sure I could pass even if I were sober. I put myself in the suspect’s shoes as they were handcuffed, read their rights, and placed in the back of a police cruiser.
- I also looked at some online images of car accidents caused by drunk drivers: awful, terrible, horrible images.
- I thought about how Jake, my husband, and the three people who like me would feel if I died or went to prison because I did something so reckless and preventable.
- Finally, I knew I had no standing to preach to my son about the dangers of drunk driving if I were doing the same myself. At 14, he is getting to the age at which he will be with friends who drive. In two years he will be driving. It was time to walk the talk in a nice straight line (heel to toe!).
It’s simple. I’ve prepared a script for you. Are you ready?
Wife, please wake up. Here, I brought you some alma-seltzer® and a greasy breakfast burrito.
OK, I’ll wait while you barf. Do you want me to hold your hair?
This is the last time you will wake up hungover with your car in the garage. I will not stand for you risking your reputation, your health, your life, and the lives of others by driving drunk anymore. This stops today.
I want you to read this:
At this point you hand her your laptop with this blog open on the screen. Be careful that she doesn’t drip grease or sweat sad little Pinot Grigio vapors all over it.
See the part where Robin admits to doing the same stupid shit but what made her change her behavior? What? It’s not blurry.
Fine, I’ll read it to you. Jesus Christ, are you still drunk? You smell weird.
Read “What Changed for Me” to your wife but personalize it for her.
- Tell her to imagine seeing her mugshot online when she googles her name or seeing her name in the paper.
- Tell her to imagine killing someone while driving drunk.
- Tell her to picture getting a call that one of your kids has been killed by a drunk driver.
- Tell her to imagine her own funeral and your children growing up without a mom.
- Tell her to imagine your 16-year-old son chugging six beers and getting behind the wheel.
- Google “DUII arrest videos” and watch them together.
- Google “drunk driver car crashes” and look at them together.
Finally, make a promise to your wife that whenever possible you will drive her to her ladies’ night location and either pick her up or have her call a cab or car service home. You have Uber in your city so there is no excuse for this behavior to continue.
Actually, scratch that advice.
Insist upon driving her from now on.
Hide her keys and put on a cute little chauffeur’s cap.
Bonus: there could be some fun and sexy role-playing this could lead to!
Let me know how she reacts to that and please follow through on my advice. Please.
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