A few years ago, my husband and I left our convenient life in the city and headed eight miles west, to the suburbs. It was a tough decision. We had both spent our entire adult lives within the limits of big cities, and we knew the ’burbs were going to be different. It would be quieter, we would have to mow the lawn and we would be driving more. But we also knew the suburban lifestyle would be more suitable to our future plans.   

The first week in our new home, we decided to go out for dinner. We drove to the downtown area and chose a nice little Italian restaurant. There, we had a pre-dinner cocktail and a bottle of wine with dinner. When the meal was over, we walked out of the restaurant, and rather than hailing a cab like we used to, we started heading toward the car. And that’s when it hit us: We couldn’t drive home. After a brief attempt to “sober up” by drinking Diet Cokes for an hour at a local bar, we accepted our fate and walked. Was it tempting to say, “It’s only a mile and a half. We’ll make it if we drive.”? Yes, of course. But neither of us wanted to take the risk. Lesson learned.

Versions of this scenario play out over and over every day. Some people choose not to drive when they’ve had too much to drink, while some risk it and get behind the wheel regardless of how much alcohol they’ve consumed. It’s statistically proven that most of them reach their destinations without causing harm to themselves or others. In fact, an average drunken driver has driven drunk 80 times before his or her first arrest, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). However, we all know too well the stories of those who aren’t so lucky.

I recently sat down with John Ansbach, CLO of MADD, to talk about his work with the organization (see John Ansbach, CLO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, finds reward in challenging work ). Ansbach is passionate about MADD’s mission and the work his legal team does to support it. While many of us were raised to know not to drink and drive, it still happens every day. And for more than 30 years, MADD has worked diligently to get drunken drivers off the streets. So, for my first column of the year, I want to thank MADD and remind all InsideCounsel readers about the dangers of drunken driving. Have a safe and happy 2012.