Driving under the influence of alcohol is one of the most dangerous decisions a driver can make. Yet, in Alaska, that decision is sometimes more frequent than it should be, and the consequences are showing.
The death of a Healy, Alaska resident as she biked to work is the latest proof that drunken driving accidents are too many. As Gitte Stryhn pedaled towards her job at a tour bus company, she was struck by a vehicle and killed on the scene. Stryhn was only a block away from her destination.
The driver of the vehicle drove off and did not report the accident, which took place at roughly 5 a.m. Law enforcement investigators quickly identified the guilty driver by the damage and evidence apparent on his truck; he was arrested for driving under the influence, manslaughter, and failure to report an accident.
According to an article from the News-Miner, it’s feasible that the driver could have just been leaving the bars at that time in the morning. In the Denali Borough, the closing time for most bars is 5 a.m. With a closing time so far in to the next morning, drunk drivers are much more likely to share the roads with commuters on the way to work.
This latest accident has spurred conversation about moving the closing time of bars back to 3:30 a.m., which is in line with establishments in Fairbanks. But, according to the article, Alaska’s DUI trouble has much more to it than closing times.
Violent crimes that involve alcohol and driving under the influence frequent the Alaska court system. Law enforcement and the judicial system have taken steps to reduce drunk driving such as employing stiffer penalties, ignition interlock apparatuses, and alternative treatments for alcoholism and that has reduced drunk driving fatalities — but not by a lot.
More than 1 in 10 Alaskan residents have been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol. Why? It could be because laws and punishments cannot easily solve the problem of DUI. The best way to prevent drunk driving within communities is to reinforce the dangers and consequences to family and friends, often.
As car accident attorneys who have personal experience with the devastation that car accidents, injuries, and death can cause, we encourage everybody to speak with their loved ones about the risk of driving after a few drinks. Let’s all, as a community, continue to reduce the amount of tragic accidents such as the one above.