Every Thursday on Twitter @jdesmondharris‘Dear Prudence, asks readers for their thoughts on a question that has puzzled them. She will post her final thoughts on this on Friday. Here is this week’s dilemma and answer:
My partner and I are against drunk driving – we just don’t. But my partner has a friend we see a lot of times leaving events that he clearly had some at but drives anyway. Every time I see this I step in (I offer a lift first and then insist – but he always claims he’s good). I don’t think it’s a choice but a moral obligation. My partner is not supporting me at the moment; he knows his friend will escalate anyway and drive home himself.
I understand that my partner has more to lose than me in these scenarios (there are complicated politics with people he works with who are also present), but I lose respect for my partner and for everyone (the party hosts , the colleagues, the friends) who sees it and lets it go on. Am I overreacting here? I belong to the strong minority, but it’s not a gray area for me; If you have difficulty walking, you are not in good driving condition. How should we deal with such situations in the future? What can we do if our trips are refused, but we still want to cultivate a friendship?
—A few too many
Love a couple,
Well, you are definitely right about ethics: People shouldn’t drive drunk because doing so is putting other people’s lives at risk for no good reason. I think a lot of people (stupidly) just don’t see a fatal accident as a real possibility if they stumble out of a bar.
That’s why @BRCTweets said: “I would be the ‘difficult’ one. My older brother was killed by a drunk driver when he was 19, and nothing ever slips around me; I don’t care who hates me later. Yes, there is something special about telling this story at a social event, but the discomfort is fleeting. The grief is permanent. “
So being uncomfortably intrusive is absolutely a sensible choice – but I think if you were okay with that, you wouldn’t have asked for advice. When I asked for help on twitter, I explained that I found this tricky because on the one hand no reaction is too violent when someone wants to drive off and possibly kill someone, but on the other hand very few people actually do that in real life. In other words, sticking to what’s right here doesn’t feel completely realistic – nor is it useful for upholding a friendship or social “norms”.
As @ExhaustedFemme puts it: “In some places and within some groups, drunk driving is * extremely * normal. Nobody talks about DDs, + taking home an UBER is only half expected. In rural areas without UBER? You drive. Always. Am i saying it’s alright? Oh god, no. However, your results may vary depending on your location. “
For practical solutions, some people thought you should just pick 9-1-1 every time your friend stumbles into their car.
I know calling the police in general is a difficult answer, but maybe the right answer here? When he’s so impaired that he cannot walk, I don’t think it’s good to let him go and possibly kill himself or other people in the name of friendship. –@IsabelAphrael
That wouldn’t be not correct to do, but if your goal is to keep people alive we all know that police involvement doesn’t always go the way you might hope it will – especially when someone gets in their way is not white. Then there is the fact that a person who is not thinking rationally may not respond to a traffic stop by stopping quickly and pulling out their driver’s license and registration. He could easily take off and try to escape, which could lead to an even more dangerous situation, and it could only cause more trouble and conflict with him overall.
Several people suggested something that I think might be the smartest choice: talking to the friend while he is sober.
Uff. An immediate thought is that a serious conversation with the driver should take place when they are sober, not when they are already exhausted. –@ClaraTGreen
One problem seems to be trying to deal with it right now. The author’s partner should speak to the friend in a sober and sober environment, saying that it makes him feel uncomfortable and worried and hopes that if they hang out, the friend can arrange a lift –@JillFilipovic
Could LW ask their partner to discuss this with the friend if the friend is sober before the next party? If the friends still soberly refuse to help, there really is not much they can do other than avoid events in the future. –@ mboehm214
I think this is your best choice: try to talk to him while he’s not drunk and figure out how to drive him home. You don’t have to shame him or alienate him or anything – you can emphasize that this is a bigger problem for you than most people, and ask him if he’ll agree to carpool or hand over his keys to focus on Ease.
If the friend refuses, you may not want to be with them in such situations anymore. After all, it doesn’t sound like you’re really enjoying yourself, and it certainly doesn’t seem to benefit your relationship. As @redpenmamapgh say, “This is one of those situations where the mantra ‘You cannot control what others are doing’ has to be applied. The LC can talk to his partner about how it feels to be unsupported in the moment. In addition, this person can at most not take part in these events. “
I finally thought @sesmith had a good idea in trying to address the underlying problem – your friend’s potential alcohol problem: “Also, this sounds like a bigger problem with that person’s relationship with alcohol that needs to be addressed. If there is someone in the friend group who is in recovery and they are ready, reaching out to someone who has been there might be a really good idea. “
Perhaps, even if you don’t have a recovery friend, someone could ask this question, whether they have a drinking problem. If you can help him drink less (or not at all), it can do more to keep him and others safe than you could at any party. Perhaps you can share this approach with your partner and hope for their support. He is more likely to join a plan that is pre-made and does not need to be publicly implemented. But remember, the point is, you do what you see right and you shouldn’t wait for him to agree before acting. Much luck!
My sister makes most of her money renting out her beach house in the summer when she usually lives with her boyfriend or our parents. This year she got an indecent amount of money for the month of December and wants to spend two weeks with my family. She offered to pay for her way, but the amount is less than three days from what she is renting her home for. My husband and I accepted her first offer without paying any attention to her actual finances. My husband looked at some of their emails when we were with my parents after my sister didn’t unsubscribe from their email. Now he’s angry and wants to ask for more money.