Storycorps: DWI Edition

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On Fridays, National Public Radio features recordings from its Storycorps booth. These recordings sometimes feature a teacher and student, a parent and child, spouses, or a single person discussing a life-changing experience. They are always thought-provoking, and often are heart-wrenching.

I’m not looking to steal Storycorps’ thunder nor aiming to make anyone cry (a common Storycorps side effect), but I am interested in creating a broadcast for the School of Government that relates to impaired driving. I want to start by hearing from people who have been convicted of misdemeanor impaired driving. I want to know whether and how that experience altered the course of their lives–for the better or for the worse.

I’m particularly interested in learning about how the many sanctions imposed on impaired drivers– license revocation, substance abuse treatment, jail time, and community service requirements–affect people. If you were convicted of impaired driving, did it cost you your job? Was it the wake-up call that helped you address your dependence on substance abuse? Did it permanently affect you some other way?  Which of the sanctions imposed had the most impact?  What was the hardest part of the process for you?  The most significant?

If you are willing to talk with me on tape about these issues, please contact me at 919-843-5120 or email me at denning@sog.unc.edu. Your story will be anecdotal. But it can enrich the discussion about the best methods for solving the problem of impaired driving in a personal and tangible way that raw numbers cannot.

4 comments on “Storycorps: DWI Edition

  1. You have “tape”?

  2. Next week on the cover of Pompous Weekly… ^

  3. Shea,
    Are you also interested in hearing from victims of impaired driving? Those stories are also “always thought-provoking, and often are heart-wrenching.” I am happy to connect you with MADD NC if you are interested in that perspective.

    • As I noted in the post, I am not aiming to make anyone cry. Instead, this project is aimed at gathering information about how the sanctions imposed for misdemeanor impaired driving affect the people upon whom they are imposed. (Impaired driving that causes serious injury or death to another is a felony offense, not merely a misdemeanor.) Thus, while I do hope to provoke thought, I have no plan to create anything heart-wrenching. I’m specifically interested in hearing from defendants about whether and how the sanctions are satisfying the primary purposes of sentencing as those purposes have been defined by our legislature. See G.S. 15A-1340.12. Do they impose a punishment commensurate with the injury? Take into account factors that may diminish or increase an offender’s culpability? Protect the public? Assist the offender toward rehabilitation and restoration to the community as a lawful citizen? Provide a general deterrent to criminal behavior? There is no question that impaired driving is dangerous and that it is a behavior that policy-makers have spent years trying to eradicate. Questions remain about how that goal can be accomplished in a way that is consistent with justice.

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