Dangers of Drunk Driving: A 7-News Special Report - KSWO, Lawton, OK- Wichita Falls, TX: News, Weather, Sports. ABC, 24/7, Telemundo -

Dangers of Drunk Driving: A 7-News Special Report

Lawton_Drunk driving accidents increase greatly during the holiday season. Statistics show more than 13,000 fatality crashes each year involve a drunk driver -- and more than two-thirds of those drunk drivers were first time offenders. So Seven News nightside reporter Elaina Rusk hit the streets with police to find out how they're cracking down, in a Seven News special report.

The organization "Mothers Against Drunk Driving" say about one in every three Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some point in their lives. So even if you've driven drunk before, and think you're a pretty good drunk driver, that doesn't mean you aren't dangerous behind the wheel of a deadly weapon. And this holiday season police are trying to convince you that this could happen to you -- and if you keep driving drunk, statistics show that it will.

A drunk driver caused a crash back in January at the intersection of Cache and Sheridan roads. Police say it wasn't the first time he was caught drunk behind the wheel. The soldier he hit - Jared Reid - died.

Just the week before police say a woman caused a four-car pile-up on 53rd and Cache Roads. Police say she failed a field sobriety test at the scene. Luckily no one died in that crash - but one woman was taken to the hospital with possible internal injuries.

And just one month ago, police suspect the man driving a truck was drunk when he drove off of this bridge on Bishop Road, dying in the crash.

Every thirty minutes a person dies at the hands of a drunk driver. "It's going to affect more than just you," said Lawton Police Officer Robert Whittington. "It's a selfish act that you're doing. You can get in an accident, you can kill somebody."

But why does this happen so often? We wanted to find out for ourselves. Lawton police officers supervised as three volunteers from the seven news team drank until we were past the legal limit of .08. Then they each got behind the wheel and spent 20 minutes trying to find our way home.

Our experiment proved that even though they felt fine during the field sobriety tests, they weren't OK out on the road.

And as for those field sobriety tests they took before we hopped in the simulator, turns out they failed those, too. They all thought they had fooled the police -- but their eyes helped give them away.

In actual dash cam video from a drunk driving crash, seven-year-old Katie Hlynn was killed, along with the driver behind the wheel of her limousine. They were sober. The man behind the headlights wasn't.

Here's another tragic example... The night of May 4th, 2002, 19-year-old Krystle Rogers and two friends were driving home from Stillwater after a Sunday school fellowship. It was after midnight, with rain and fog clouding Krystle's vision -- so she drove 45 miles an hour. The drunk driver coming toward her was doing 70. "Krystle was killed instantly, crushed from the neck down," said her mother Sherri Rogers, a victim advocate with MADD. "The drunk driver hit her head on."

The drunk driver had just left a bar in Stillwater. To this day no one can understand how he ended up on the wrong side of Highway 51 when there's such a wide median separating the lanes. "Been drinking all day and all night," Rogers said. "His blood alcohol level two hours after the crash was .17"

The two other teens in the car with Krystle were taken from the scene in critical condition. The drunk driver walked away with a sprained ankle.  "I told him... I want you to think of what you robbed of me," she said. "And I don't think it will hit him, until he has his own child. You know, I felt like a piece of me is gone."

And that's the reason cops are cracking down. There will be more than double the amount of officers out on the streets during the holidays, watching you as you leave, perhaps following you in unmarked cars. Because they'd rather ruin your night, than have you destroy someone else's life. "You can get away with it for so long, but I think eventually you're going to get caught," Officer Whittington said. "And hopefully it's by us and not in the aspect that you end up hurting yourself, or somebody, because you've built up that type of tolerance, or that type of arrogance."

One thing our experiment proved -- even if you're a seasoned drinker, that doesn't mean alcohol won't affect your driving abilities. And don't think your size or weight has anything to do with it. As you saw in the report -- Dan Zarrow is bigger than Elaina, but the same amount of alcohol affected him far more than it did her. But the breathalyzer showed he was OK to hit the road, and she was not.

You can prevent drunk driving crashes by designating a sober driver this holiday season -- or simply calling a cab, a friend, a neighbor... anybody.

Again we'd like to thank the Lawton Police Department for supervising our experiment and allowing the Seven News team to drive the L-3 Communications Patrol Simulator. This was an unscientific experiment and should not be repeated without the permission and supervision of police.

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