Further Reading

What is your attitude towards Audrey Kishline's "accident"?

Dear Stanton:

I have just learned of the drunk-driving crash involving Audrey Kishline and appreciate the fact that you have not shied away from it here. However, I noticed that you several times use the term "accident," including in your links about the crash.

No, I am not a member of MADD, but I wholeheartedly agree with MADD's position on the use of the term "accident" to describe what happens when people drive drunk and kill or injure themselves or others. As you stated, "even alcoholics can make sure they stay out of cars when they are drunk."

Call it a mistake, call it a crash, call it a wreck. But please don't call it an accident. Accidents are occurrences that can't be prevented. Drunk driving can be prevented by placing responsibility squarely where it belongs—with those who drink. Perhaps if those working in the field of recovery would help drive this point home with suitable terminology when speaking to those who drink, fewer people would be injured and killed at the hands of drunk drivers.

Marion Graham


Dear Marion:

I agree with part of your message wholeheartedly. I don't hold people who drink responsible for killing others; I hold people who kill others responsible for their actions. I do not view Audrey as a victim; I do not sympathize with her plight. I sympathize with the people who died — the child and her father — and their loved ones. Audrey has killed people because of her lack of control over her life. Someone who has had drinking problems in the past, who has been in treatment, who organized a support group, who was attending AA, et al. has as much knowledge as an individual can have about her own drinking, about driving drunk, and about behaving responsibly — whether trying to drink moderately or to abstain. I won't prejudge her court case. I won't prejudge her psychological condition (and I suspect she was undergoing severe stress in her personal life). But I agree her actions were volitional and that having a trial for vehicular homicide is obligatory. Incidentally, I have served as an expert witness for the prosecution in a trial quite similar to the one Audrey will likely undergo — where a long-time member of AA got drunk, drove across a medial strip, and killed a woman. This man had been in treatment innumerable times, subscribed to the disease theory of alcoholism, actively attended AA, and engaged in planned binges periodically (while being a sponsor in AA). As I testified about the responsibility of even drunken individuals to make choices, I saw him disagreeing violently (by shaking his head) in the courtroom.

Yours,
Stanton