This week, police in Sonoma County announced that a 59-year-old Walnut Creek woman had been arrested on suspicion of being intoxicated while driving 75 mph in a 45-mph zone in Petaluma.
According to Walnut Creek Patch, Ruth Kathryn Fielding had twice the 0.08 legal blood-alcohol level in her system when she was arrested Monday. When she was stopped on the Lakeville Highway she was on active DUI probation, was driving on a suspended license and was also wanted on a $150,000 warrant from Contra Costa County for felony DUI charges.
I’m in no position to get on a high horse about how anyone is morally reprehensible if they consume any amount of alcohol before driving.
I have driven home after a dinner out, or after going to a party, where I consumed two, three or more drinks. I may have had enough alcohol in my system to reach the legal limit of intoxication. I’m not proud that I ever drove under the influence. I haven’t done it for a while
But I would guess that many otherwise responsible law-abiding upstanding citizens in town have also driven after consuming a few too many drinks at a fancy dinner or society party. Booze is a big part of our leisure time, including events centered on our kids. What’s a school fundraiser these days without the booze flowing?
Nothing wrong with us enjoying nice wine or a good martini, but then we become outraged by people like Ruth Fielding?
Then again, I don’t understand how a person would keep drinking and driving after getting just one DUI. The penalties for one DUI–the $1200 fine, community service and DUI school–would have scared me into an abstemious life-style.
But then to get another DUI, and another? I don’t know Fielding but clearly she has an alcohol problem. One hallmark of addiction is that a person will keep using even if she becomes fully aware of the destructive consequences. Clearly, she has a disease. She kept driving under the influence, putting herself and others at risk of serious harm. Years of heavy drinking–which is most likely the case with her–have probably taken their toll on her mind and body: liver damage, brain damage, pretty things like that. Her criminal record shows that she is a very sick woman.
You might see her as morally defective. It sounds like she managed to avoid hurting anyone while driving–there but the grace of God, as they say in Recovery Speak. But she was probably hurting friends and family who saw her alcoholism destroying her life.
It’s very sad. I hope she’s able to finally take advantage of the help that’s probably been offered to her all along. Jail or prison time could help keep her away from the booze. But her real chance of saving herself is up to her. She’s either going to be ready to get help. Or she’s not. Addiction is nasty business.