Alabama has fifth highest drunk driving deaths in 2017, study says

(WMC Action News 5)
Updated: Dec. 31, 2018 at 2:58 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - William Jordan never returned home after leaving to help a friend at 2 a.m., fifteen years ago.

“I never heard from him again,” said Monica Jordan who is William’s mom. “Not until the next morning I got the knock on the door from the state trooper."

William died after a drunk driver crash that morning.

“He was a really good guy and he just decided to go out and help a friend one night,” she said. “He had three children, a brand new baby at the time he was killed.”

A SafeWise study said Alabama has the fifth highest rate of impaired driving deaths. Alabama had a rate of 5.5 deaths per 100,000 people.

StateImpaired Driving Deaths per 100,000 People
South Carolina6.22
North Dakota6.08
New Mexico5.74

With New Year’s celebrations right around the corner, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, M.A.D.D, are encouraging people to find a ride home if they drink. Pamela Morton is an Alabama state victim services coordinator at M.A.A.D.

She said they do not want families like Monica’s to lose a loved one.

“New Year’s Eve is a time for celebration and a sense of renewal,” said Morton. “A lot of people like to welcome in the New Year with alcoholic drinks, which is fine if you’re over age 21. The problem comes when people decide to consume alcohol and then get behind the wheel.”

Morton wants people to find alternative rides, including a cab, Uber, Lyft, or a friend.

“There are so many options,” Morton said. “There is never an excuse to get behind a wheel after drinking.”

M.A.A.D said the average drunk driver drives an average of 80 times before he is ever caught the first time.

“If it takes 80 times for you to drive impaired, you start to think ‘I might drive pretty good if I’ve consumed it,’ and that’s just not the case,” she said.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency says there will be officers across the state on watch Monday night.

“It would not be uncommon to encounter a driver’s license checkpoint that state troopers are doing,” said Corp. Jess Thornton.

He said before the holiday season began, state trooper worked 111 fatal crashes where alcohol was involved. This number does not include local municipalities.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is if you get behind the wheel of a vehicle and you’re impaired by alcohol or drugs, and you’re involved in a wreck, and you hurt or kill somebody, you’re looking at a felony charge or a homicide charge if that person dies,” Thornton said.

Monica Jordan volunteers with M.A.A.D and shares why people should not drink and drive.

“The pain never goes away. The grief never goes away. There’s always going to be that hole in your heart, but you learn to appreciate life,” Monica said.

Copyright 2018 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.