Trooper Rob: Holiday drinking can be deadlyPublished 4:02pm Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Ask Trooper Rob
By Robert Herbstreith, Michigan State Police Niles Post
You may have been hearing on recent public service announcements (PSA) about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and drunk driving. Per the PSAs, Wednesday night before Thanksgiving is the biggest “bar night” in America. It’s believed that since this is the only true four-day holiday every year, people begin celebrating a little early with the alcohol. This also makes this weekend the deadliest holiday weekend. With families and friends traveling the highways and byways of America, many more people are on the road. If this is combined with deadly drunk drivers, the holidays can turn into a day of mourning instead of a day of giving thanks.
Thursday is opening day for Michigan’s gun season for deer. This means many hunters are heading for the woods and cabins for their “deer camps.” How many of these camps bring more beer than bullets? Celebrating the hunt until wee hours of the morning with alcohol, then heading for the tree stand can be just as deadly as driving with alcohol in the body. Along with that, consuming the alcohol then sleeping for a few hours, then heading out to the deer blind, many forget the science of alcohol and don’t realize they are still impaired.
The following information is based on scientific calculations. A “drink” is considered 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine or one shot glass of the “hard stuff,” such as whiskey, vodka or rum. Based on scientific standards, a 190-pound person with one drink would register a .02 percent bodily alcohol content (BAC).
Remember, this is based on scientific measurements. Different factors play in this, such as food in the stomach, absorption rates and dissipation rates. Then, again, based on science, this alcohol leaves the system at an average rate of .015 percent BAC per hour. Basically, for every beer drank, plan on an hour per beer before you could be considered sober.
Per statistics I had access to a few years ago, there was only one major holiday in Michigan, since 1972, where no one was killed because of an alcohol-related crash. Christmas Eve in 2000, no one died because of a drunken driving crash. Most recently, one of the July 4th holidays became the second.
I challenge you to make your hunting season and holidays a safe time to be enjoyed, not mourned. Law enforcement reminds you that, if you are legally consuming alcohol, do so with responsibility. Your life, the life of a family member or any other innocent person, may depend on your sobriety.
In the Line of Duty
On May 6, 2000, Tpr. Rick Johnson, 35, of the Paw Paw Post, was assigned to the day shift.
After reporting for duty at 7 a.m., he began his patrols. Shortly before noon, he made a traffic stop on I-94, just east of the M-51 exit. He conducted passenger side stop, meaning he went to the passenger side of the stopped vehicle to speak with the driver. After speaking to the driver of his traffic stop, he began to walk back to his patrol vehicle.
Driving westbound on I-94, a 21-year-old mother was distracted by her two small children and her mother. She drove off the roadway onto the shoulder of the road, striking the rear of Tpr. Johnson’s patrol car, just as he was in between it and the stopped vehicle. He was pinned and then became trapped underneath as the patrol vehicle continued to spin before coming to rest in the travel lanes of the freeway.
Extricated and treated at the scene by emergency personnel, he was airlifted to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo, where he was pronounced dead due to the injuries. The mother and her passengers were treated at the same hospital. The 21-year-old driver was later charged with negligent homicide.
The previous day, Tpr. Johnson had successfully talked a suicidal man out of jumping from the overpass onto the freeway, less than a mile from his tragic death.
Tpr. Johnson enlisted with the MSP on Jan. 15, 1995, with a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University.
His father, William, retired from the MSP as a detective lieutenant in 1991. Tpr. Johnson is buried in Petoskey and became the 48th MSP trooper to die in the line of duty.