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Dear Debbie: My best friend is driving drunk, what should I do?

Shannon Lundgren, Editor-in-Chief

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Dear Debbie: My best friend and I recently moved to Mobile together to start school at the University of South Alabama when we graduated from high school. It hasn’t gone very well. Since we moved here, she began drinking alcohol. She’s only 18, and I don’t mind that she’s drinking under age, but she will often drive out to sporting events to keep partying after “pre-gaming” it at home. I’m terrified she will hurt herself or another person! I have thought about calling her mother, but I don’t want to be a tattle-tale. What should I do?

~ Accident Waiting to Happen


Dear Accident Waiting to Happen: This question was a bit above my pay-grade, so to speak. To answer your question, I contacted USA Chief of Police Zeke Aull and USA Counseling and Testing Services Counselor Shanta Jenkins.

Both Aull and Jenkins agreed that talking to your roommate when she is sober and preferably not hungover is the first step.

“I think you have to be direct,” Aull said.  “I think you have to be blunt. I don’t think you have to be rude,” Aull said. “I think you have to be up front. You don’t have to be ‘in your face,’ but you have to let them know that they can get hurt and others can get hurt.”

The statistics prove Aull’s point that drinking and driving is dangerous to college students.

“Each year, an estimated 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes,” Jenkins said.

If you don’t know how to have a conversation with your roommate about her drinking and driving, Jenkins mentioned that the CTS can help you develop a strategy for talking to your roommate. CTS offers free and confidential services to USA students with no limit to the number of sessions.

Jenkins said that you should remind your roommate of the consequences of drinking and driving, which could include being fined, arrested, being expelled from USA housing and suspension or expulsion from USA.

The hidden expenses of drinking and driving add up, according to Aull. Some people don’t think about the monetary reasons not to drink and drive.

“… a DUI [charge] is a costly little gift.” Aull said. “Insurance goes up dramatically, court costs, attorney’s fees. It’s an expensive little gig.”

Additionally, Aull and Jenkins agreed that you should follow your instinct about whether or not you should call your roommate’s mother. What sort of relationship you have with your roommate’s mother and whether or not you think it will be an effective move should guide your decision.

If your roommate remains unpersuaded by your arguments and continues to drink and drive, you have a moral and ethical duty call the police. If doing the right thing were easy, everyone would do the right thing all the time. Remember, the people out on the roads didn’t ask to get in an accident when they got in their cars.

Aull acknowledged that calling the police on your friend and roommate is a difficult decision.

“As much as it might hurt, calling the police might be the thing that helps,” Aull said.

Indeed, some people have to hit rock-bottom before they can make positive changes to their life. There’s something about being forced to face the consequences of one’s bad decisions that makes people change when no amount of persuasion can do so.

I fully encourage you to take advantage of the free services offered by CTS if you need their help at any point. You can reach them by calling (251) 460-7051 or going to

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Dear Debbie: My best friend is driving drunk, what should I do?