Opinion

COLUMN: Months to think, instead of a moment

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On Point by Andy Holota

A couple of weeks ago, I made a very serious error in judgment.

I drank, and then drove.

I was stopped in a routine police check, and I failed a roadside screening test.

I am now paying the price, and it is extremely steep.

I have lost my driver’s licence for 90 days, and it will be expensive getting it back.

But the financial cost doesn’t begin to compare with the real pain.

Words are inadequate as to how I feel, but here are some...

Ashamed. Embarrassed. Guilty. Irresponsible.

Gutted. That works well, too.

Among what absolutely hurts the most – telling my 16-year-old daughter.

This is what your father has done. The dad you deserve to be proud of. The role model in your life. I have brought more anxiety, uncertainty and complication into your life, and your mom’s.

What was I thinking? The answer is, I wasn’t. It wasn’t so much thinking that I was OK to drive – it was more about not thinking at all.

This was not deliberate. It was not an intentional flouting of the law, or a perception of somehow being exempt.

It was just after dinner, for just a few moments, just on a short errand – just... just... just.

The law dictates I should not have been on the road, and for good reason. I accept that.

The penalties for a failed test are tough. Vehicle impounded for 30 days. An $800 bill to get it back. A $500 fine. A $250 licence reinstatement fee. An $800 responsible driver’s course.

Go online to icbc.com to read the details.

I understand why the laws in this respect have become more immediate and punitive. There have been too many people like me who drove after a few drinks.

The tougher laws are having a positive impact. Since the new rules were introduced, B.C. has seen a decrease in impaired driving deaths to an annual average of 54, half of a previous annual five-year average of 112.

There are personal upsides in all of this as well.

I did not cause an accident, nor was I involved in one. The consequences of that are almost too chilling to imagine.

I learned a huge lesson – one that should have been obvious.

Also clear is the necessity of some lifestyle changes. Those are underway.

Job stress. Fatigue. The tensions of everyday life. None of those influences, nor any others, are reasons to drink irresponsibly.

I am sharing my experience with you, because I sincerely hope that by reading this, others won’t repeat my grave error in judgment.

It doesn’t require a great deal to fail a roadside screening test.

Don’t take the chance.

Caution over convenience.

Not because of the potential penalties that loom, but because of the risk you place upon yourself, your passengers and other people on the road.

If you’re wondering, I was not ordered or asked to write this column.

I could try to hide what happened from everyone other than my family and work. And that would make me a liar.

To the constable who dealt with me: Thank you for your courtesy and professionalism.

To my colleagues and friends: I sincerely apologize. I know you expect better, and you would be right.

Most importantly, to my wife and daughter, and our moms: I failed more than a roadside test. The road to rebuilding your support and respect begins here.

For anyone who drinks, read this, and please think before you drive.

Now I have three months to do that. You just need one moment.

Andy Holota is editor of The Abbotsford News.

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