Bob Bestler

Tragedy of DUI sends message to us all

I've written this column before.

I suspect that I'll write it again some day.

I'm talking about the awful deaths last week of two lovely, spirited young women whose automobile was hit by a man who has been charged with felony driving under the influence.

Without convicting the man charged in this case, it is all too obvious that drivers getting behind the wheel when they shouldn't continue to take a terrible toll on Grand Strand lives. In this case, the driver was charged because police said he had taken a prescription painkiller that impaired his ability to drive.

For most readers, I'm preaching to the choir. Many people - especially when they have reached my age - might enjoy a drink or two and call it a night.

Too many don't stop there, and one can only pray the message that blared from the front pages of The Sun News in recent days hits home with the party-going crowd:

Don't drive if you've been drinking or taking anything - legal or not - that might affect your ability to operate a car. You may get away with it for a while, but eventually it will destroy your life as surely as it destroys the lives of others.

The Grand Strand is a fun-loving community that is rife with bars and nightclubs and one can only guess how many drivers happily get behind the wheel every night after a few too many.

I can tell you I did it too many times in my lifetime.

One doesn't have to be an alcoholic to have a problem. I wasn't. I was a "social drinker" who imbibed on occasion - and sometimes drank too much before driving home.

Only through the grace of God am I able to sit here, in freedom and without guilt for destroying lives, and write about it. Indeed, regular readers of this column know how lucky I am.

Three years ago I received a DUI citation. It was a terrifying experience, but it was also life-altering.

Looking back, it may have been one of the best things to ever happen to me. I thank God daily that I was stopped by a North Myrtle Beach police officer instead of a tree or, worse, another car.

Today I grieve with all of you for these innocent young women who were plucked away just as their lives were beginning to bloom.

There are no words sufficient to mourn their loss - and the loss of so many others at the hands of someone who should not have been driving.

I'm no teetotaller. I still enjoy a drink or two with a meal. But without a designated driver that is as far as I go. The consequences are too horrible to contemplate.