December 19, 2014

Drunk Driving a Learned Behavior?

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Is drunk driving a learned behavior? It is according to Daniel Frisch of Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

Frisch is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence for his 12th drunk driving conviction. Speaking to Gannett Wisconsin Media, Frisch explained that he still has difficulty understanding why driving drunk is illegal.

Frisch explained that, although he grew up in relatively normal family, alcohol was involved in much of the family’s activities.

“Dad would tip a few, then drive us all home,” said Frisch. “That was how I grew up. That’s what everyone did.”

Brown County Judge told Gannett Wisconsin Media that he believes that repeat DUI offenders, “almost across the board,” rationalize their drunk driving and do not understand that it is wrong.

“These are otherwise good people,” Zuidmulder said. “They go to work, go to church on Sunday. They maintain sobriety for a few months or a few years. Then they drink and drive again. They are clearly dangerous, but they don’t think they are.”

Even if Frisch is attempting to rationalize his own behavior, does it make his perceptions of why he drinks and drives any less true?

Take a minute and think about some of bad habits we’ve picked up from our parents. Although not an excuse for driving drunk, is it possible that Frisch’s actions were at least partly influenced by his own experiences as a child?

“Maybe that’s part of my problem; I don’t really look at it as a crime,” Frisch said. “It’s hard for me to accept punishment for something I grew up thinking was OK. In some ways I guess I still think it’s OK, but I know I have to stop.”

Maybe Frisch’s outlook on drunk driving would have changed if prior intervention was more successful.

Frisch was never required to undergo alcohol treatment following any conviction. In fact, during a 15 month prison stay for his ninth DUI, Frisch was placed on a waiting list for an intensive alcohol treatment program for inmates. Unfortunately, the program was cancelled a month later and Frisch was not offered any alternatives.


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The acronyms DUI, DWI, OMVI and OVI all refer to the same thing: operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The most commonly used terms are DUI, an acronym for Driving Under the Influence, and DWI, an acronym for Driving While Impaired.
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