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DO WE THINK ITíS OK TO DRIVE DRUNK?
By George Guevara 

    Itís only a drunk.  The untimely and tragic deaths of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed along with the injuries sustained by bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones bring to light many issues.  First there is the issue that paparazzi, in their zeal to take revealing photos, are harassing their subjects to the point that their subjects are will to do anything to get away from these photographers.  Why was the bodyguard the only passenger wearing a seat belt?  Why such high-speed driving cy chauffeur Henri Paul, considering this was not a life-threatening event?  Iím sure there will be plenty of blame to go around and Iím sure we will all be learning more as the days and weeks pass.  There is a factor, however, that cannot be discounted and must be factored in to this equation:  Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed were allegedly killed by a drunk driver!

     Letís for a moment look at the profile of driver Henri Paul.  He is a former commando in the French Air Force.  He was considered an exemplary employee.  He had training as a chauffeur, driving bulletproof limousines.  He had additional training in the area of anti-terrorist and anti-hijacking techniques, in addition to training in high-speed driving tactics. 

     Now, letís look at the downside to this most capable driver.  He was driving at a high speed) an estimated 121 mph in a 30 mph zone), supposedly to get away from the approaching paparazzi.  Now the kicker:  he was allegedly drunk by Franceís standards of driving under the influence.  Even by our own standards here in California, Mr. Paul reportedly would have been over twice our legal limit (which is .08 percent).  Mr. Paulís blood alcohol content was reportedly registered at .17 percent. 

     Weíve heard all the speeches and read the literature about drinking and driving for years now.  We have heard that impairment begins with that first drink.  But letís look briefly at the common signs of alcohol influence.  At .03 percent (Less than half the legal limit) we see slowed reactions.  At .05 percent (just slightly over half the legal limit) we see increased risk-taking.  At .08 percent (our legal limit) we see impaired vision.  At .10 (just slightly over the legal limit) we see poor coordination.  If that is the best we can expect from a well-trained driver with extensive training in driving maneuvers and tactics where does that leave the rest of us?

     Whatís sad is that Princess Diana, Dodi Fayed and Trevor Rees-Jones probably didnít even know they were entering a car being driven by a potential killer (drunk driver).  What I see that is really sad about these deaths is that everyone reading this will be so against drinking and driving for about a week and a half.  After the novelty wears off, it will be business as usual.  Many will again feel sorry for the friend, neighbor or family member who gets arrested for DUI, with their sympathy for the arrestee turning into distain for the patrolman on the street for arresting and not giving the DUI driver a break because he/she is either a long-time Santa Clarita resident, was only a short distance from home or because they say that they have always been a supporter of the local police department.  The story ends the same way.  Someone is dead due to drunk driving.  As Americans in what we call a civilized nation, we still to kill over 17,000 people a year. 

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