RALEIGH In the 20 years since "Booze It & Lose It" began in North Carolina, nearly 8,500 people have lost their lives in crashes involving alcohol. While even one death due to drunk driving is too many, the "Booze It & Lose It" campaign has undoubtedly prevented crashes and saved lives through strong enforcement and educational efforts centered on the dangers of drinking and driving.
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of "Booze It & Lose It," the N.C. Department of Transportation, the Governor's Highway Safety Program and Mothers Against Drunk Driving partnered to produce 20|20 Hindsight, a powerful video series depicting the devastating impacts of drinking and driving.
The series features 20 personal stories, each told from a different perspective by North Carolinians whose lives have been affected by drunk driving in very different ways. They include mothers who lost children, law enforcement officers who are changing lives and people who work every day to overcome the consequences of deciding to drive drunk.
Jenny and Jeremy Bruns tell their story as part of 20|20 Hindsight. Jeremy avoided serious injury during each of his nine deployments with the U.S. Army, only to lose both of his legs to a drunk driver in his front yard. Together, he and wife Jenny are committed to educating others about the fact that what happened to Jeremy is a preventable crime.
"It's ironic that you could spend that much time in a war zone and be fine, and at your home, you're not safe," he said. "If she [the drunk driver] had just made one simple decision not to get behind the wheelit was totally unnecessary."
Kyle Morgan knows all too well what is at stake when you decide to drive after drinking alcohol. He lives with the consequences of his choice every day. Kyle is now paralyzed after driving drunk and crashing his SUV.
"It was as if I had written down every single goal and achievement I wanted to complete in life, and I started checking them off one by one," he explained. "The second I went out the window of that SUV, it was like I threw them out that window with me."
By sharing his story, Kyle hopes to help others avoid the often catastrophic outcomes of drunk driving.
Like Kyle, Regina Delili remembers the moment her life changed forever due to the actions of a drunk driver. Her daughter Rachelle and Paul Maliska, Rachelle's coach and a father of five, died when their school activity bus was hit by a repeat DWI offender driving a tractor-trailer while drunk. Today, Regina works to keep Rachelle's memory alive and make a difference through her death to ensure no other mother has to lose her child to a drunk driver.
"When it comes to drinking and driving, it should never happen. If you're faced with that choice, you have to think of the worst thing that could possibly happen," said Regina. "It affects all of us. It kills."
Unfortunately, these stories and the 17 others featured in the 20|20 Hindsight series are all too common. While the number of drunk driving deaths in North Carolina has steadily declined year after year, crashes involving alcohol are still claiming lives across the state. More than 300 people have been killed this year alone in alcohol-related crashes statewide.