DUI : Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over

Morgantown is famous for it’s alcohol consumption. You may have heard the popular phrase, “A drinking town with a football problem” used to describe it, and with the way our football season has been going, it’s pretty true. You may have also heard the phrase, “Win or lose, we still booze”—also true.

But, game day isn’t the only time students and residents binge drink. WVU has a reputation as the number one party school in the nation. The average student will spend an average of $900 per year on alcohol, that’s almost more than the cost of books for Fall and Spring semester.

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After conducting a survey in Morgantown, nearly 60 percent of respondents indicated that they have driving while under the influence of alcohol. This helps us understand why the DUI rate is so high.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Drive sober or get pulled over.” Why do people make such a big deal out of driving under the influence? Drunk driving is the most frequently committed crime and therefore is always relevant. An alcohol-related crash kills one person every 31 minutes and injures one person every two minutes. We know drinking and driving is wrong, yet many choose to do it anyway.

Don’t think it’s a problem at WVU? Wrong. In fact, just early Sunday morning,  WVU Football player Travis Bell was arrested for DUI. After conducting a survey of 45 students on their drinking and driving habits, nearly 56 percent of respondents admitted to driving while under the influence of alcohol. Seventy percent of those respondents said they only allow themselves two drinks before driving home. The problem with this is that everyone has a different alcohol tolerance level.

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The majority of survey respondents report only drinking one or two alcoholic beverages before driving. However, two drinks for a smaller person could mean they’re above the legal limit.

Blood Alcohol Content percentages vary from state to state. Morgantown is a primarily a transient city–especially with the college students in and out each semester. In West Virginia, a blood alcohol content level of .02 percent if you’re under the age of 21, a BAC of .08 percent if you’re over the age of 21 or a commercial BAC of .04 percent could land you a DUI. A first offense could cause you jail time for up to six months or a fine from $100 to $1000 depending on your BAC or even a license suspension. Additionally, refusal to take a DUI chemical test results in an automatic license suspension. In the month of October alone, the City of Morgantown cited 29 DUIs. Since the beginning of November, WVU police have cited four DUIs. If you look through these reports you’ll find that DUI isn’t just a weekend problem. In October, there was a DUI reported on nearly every day of the week. 

One thing many people don’t realize is that just because you slept for a few hours doesn’t mean you’ll be sober when you wake up. You can still get pulled over for DUI the morning after a night of partying if you drive and  your BAC is too high.

According to the survey, students are trying to be safer. Nearly 45 percent of students said they make sure they have a designated driver before they go out. Additionally, five percent say they take a bus or a taxi, 28 percent say they walk, and six percent say they call someone. However, even with all of these alternatives, 11 percent of WVU students still say they choose to drive under the influence.There are now other alternatives offered at WVU. Dub V Safe Ride is trying to help solve the DUI problem here in Morgantown. The service offers drivers who ride a foldable scooter. When contacted via the Dub V Safe ride app, the driver rides the scooter to pick up the drunk student, folds up the scooter puts it in the trunk of the car, and drives the student and their car home safely. Then, the Dub V Safe Ride driver hops back on the scooter and goes to save the next drunk student. The program services all of Morgantown and its surrounding areas. You can even make reservations for long distance calls to Fairmont, Uniontown, and Washington, PA.

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There are many alternatives to drinking and driving.

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10 thoughts on “DUI : Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over

  1. Whitney,

    Another great post with a lot of information. $900 on alcohol per year? That means that WVU students spend (on average) $3,600 on alcohol throughout undergrad. YIKES! That makes me sick to my stomach. Anyway, I am proud to say that I never drink and drive, and neither do any of my friends. In fact, most of us strongly oppose the idea of drinking and driving — we live downtown though. It is easy for us to walk home after a night out. This may not be the case for people who live at places like The Domain, The Ridge, etc. There are buses, but they stop running around 3 a.m., and, let’s be honest, many students may not be finished partying at 3 a.m. I’m glad the police are getting stricter about enforcing DUIs. Hopefully this and programs like DUB V Safe Ride will make people think twice before getting behind the wheel after drinking.

    • I agree Maddi! I too added up the cost for an entire undergrad. It’s so crazy! I never would have guessed that amount. And that’s just an average college student. Can you imagine one that parties more often? I can’t imagine spending that much money on alcohol. But I guess it does add up.

  2. Pingback: Know your limit. | Think Insurance

  3. Whitney-
    My junior year when I took Public Affairs Reporting, I had to attend a session of Morgantown’s Municipal Court hearings. Although I knew that the students were notorious for drinking, I had no idea that more than half of the Municipal Court hearings would be for DUI’s or public intoxication. I have personally served as a designated driver for my friends several times, because I am always worried about their safely. This is a really good post full of extremely useful information! Great read (:

  4. This was good research to conduct, Whitney. Some of the numbers for those answers are troubling, and in turn, eye-opening. I would not have expected a majority of the people polled to answer “yes” to the question of whether they had driven under the influence. That doesn’t make me feel so great about driving around here at night on weekends. And though people have different tolerance levels, I’m hard pressed to think anyone should be driving after 7 drinks. That goes to show how important it is for education on the subject and hard law enforcement on DUI.

  5. My last comment on here must not have went through before I clicked away. Whoops. My comment basically follows Kevin’s. The numbers are pretty shocking. And while it’s no secret that a lot of people in Morgantown drink, it is still alarming that so many people are caught driving under the influence. And there are probably just as high a number, if not higher of people that don’t get caught (just a speculation). Also, the idea of people riding little scooters around to help save the night for intoxicated college kids is an awesome and hilarious idea.

  6. This school has that reputation of being a party school, but I never knew the numbers would be that staggering. It’s unfortunate that so many people are driving under the influence, and it’s either they get caught doing so or heaven forbid get into a serious accident. Great research on this post.

  7. I think this is a really good, well-written article. However, I have a problem with the second chart: 0-2 drinks shouldn’t be an option. There’s a huge difference between not drinking at all and then driving and drinking two drinks before driving. Who knows, that ~75 percent could be people who don’t drink and drive at all. Other than that, good job!

  8. I was shocked by the numbers you gave for this article. The graphs and and information you provided in this post make its very obvious that drinking and driving is a very serious problem in Morgantown. The amount of research and information you provide in this post make it very strong. Your use of polls is a really great way to build interactivity between your post and the reader.

  9. Good use of surveying. As a minor item, you should note that this sample size is quite small and thus not generalizable. It’s called a convenience sample. That’s not a negative – in fact, what’s more than a little chilling is that with such a small sample, such a large proportion were willing to admit to indiscretions like driving under the influence.

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