Lewes, Delaware- Veteran news reporter Sam Donaldson was scheduled to appear in court today (Dec. 21) to enter his plea for a drunk driving charge he received earlier this month.
Donaldson who was news correspondent for ABC for many years was stopped on December 1st. Police in the Delaware town of Lewes observed the 78 year-old journo drive of the road onto the shoulder shortly after 8 p.m. and pulled him over, according to CBS News.
Officers believed Donaldson was intoxicated and conducted field sobriety tests which Donaldson failed. He was immediately placed under arrest, this is his first DUI. He was later released.
The Lewes police department noted that Donaldson was cooperative.
His arraignment was scheduled for today, but Delaware Online reported he waived his right to arraignment. Donaldson who makes a living talking has been silent on the issue and has refused requests for a statement.
Donaldson may be a household name, but he will be subject to the same penalties as everyone else. First DUIs generally don’t land people in jail, but convicted drivers could lose their license for 90 days along with fines and court costs.
Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve police agencies across the country beef up their patrols and checkpoints in order to crackdown on drunken drivers. Law enforcement officers are trained to identify the signs of intoxicated driving.
According to the NHTSA, incidents of repeat drunken driving increase approximately 54 percent during the long Thanksgiving weekend and spike 62 percent New Year’s Eve. Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day are two of the deadliest days on the roads for alcohol-related accidents. In 2010, 10,000 people lost their lives because of an intoxicated driver, accounting for 31 percent of total traffic fatalities.
This spike is often caused by repeat DUI offenders. Studies have shown that 50 percent of those with a first offense are likely to drive while intoxicated again.
Not only do holidays mean more people will be traveling the roads, but there are also more temptations. It’s hard to resist having a drink or two with friends and family it is a time to celebrate after all. And many people have more than one place to be on Christmas.
With all this hustle and bustle many people will ignore or fail to realize they are too drunk to drive. Just a few drinks can be enough to put a person over the legal limit, which is .08 in most states.
The economic impact of impaired driving is staggering; alcohol-related accidents cost an estimated $37 million annually, according to the NHTSA.
If you are going to be traveling this Christmas you should take steps to protect yourself, your friends and other people on the roads. If you plan on drinking, designate a driver, plan to give yourself a few hours to sober up, or call a cab. And if you’re really drunk, ask if you can crash on the couch, what may seem like a minor inconvenience at the time can assure you are around to celebrate the holidays for another year.