Just after midnight last night, Richard Roberts was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol on the Creek Turnpike in South Tulsa, Oklahoma. According to a news report from FOX 23, he spent the night in the Tulsa County Jail and was released after posting bail in the amount of $1,100.
Also according to the news report, at the time he was pulled over by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, he was driving 93 miles per hour in a 65 miles per hour zone and a breathalyzer test would reveal his blood alcohol content to be 0.11. The legal limit for drivers is 0.08.
Incidentally, today would have been the ninety-fourth birthday of his father, Oral Roberts, who died in December of 2010. I’ll explain why this might be significant later.
As the sun rose Tuesday morning, many people on the campus of Oral Roberts University (where I am a senior preparing to graduate in May of this year) rushed to his defense, many of them playing the “judge not lest you be judged” card and throwing out Scripture like confetti in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. The most common biblical reference appeared to be Romans 3:23, which says in the NIV translation, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Of course, the real issue isn’t that he was drunk, which might or might not be a sin depending on the Christian denomination. For example, if he’d been caught totally trashed in his house on camera and video of it showed up on the Internet, I’m sure it would been embarrassing for him but that’s it. It’s likely no laws would have been broken and it would have been no one’s business.
Now, the excuse that he might have been drinking because he missed his father on what would have been his birthday is not only conjecture (we’ll have to wait for the book to know for sure) but is also no excuse at all. Getting drunk and driving a car under the influence has never been an acceptable form of dealing with grief in this country. When a man whose blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.11 gets behind the wheel of a car on a public highway, he is not only endangering his own life, but the lives of countless others.
Just how bad is it to drive with a BAC that high? According to Intox.com, a person with a BAC of 0.11 experiences “loss of critical judgment,” “impairment of perception; memory and comprehension,” “decreased sensitory response,” “increased reaction time,” ”impaired balance,” and “drowsiness” among other hazardous effects. As a matter of fact, he, his family, and everyone else concerned should be glad the highway patrol pulled him over; had he continued, any number of things could have happened, ranging from nothing to a multi-car pile-up with multiple fatalities.
So, let’s talk about Roberts’ DUI for what it is: a violation of the laws designed to protect citizens from dangerous drivers for which, if convicted, he should be held to account. At the same time, we can all avoid the “holier than thou” defenses based on logically fallacious arguments and assumptions that tend to be only selectively applied anyway. How many people rushed with these arguments to the side of Charles Barkley, Lindsay Lohan, or Mel Gibson? They had DUIs too, and Scripture applies to them just the same way it does to Richard Roberts. People who break drunk driving laws are making decisions that have the potential to cost lives and as any mother who’s lost her child to a drunk driver will tell you, it’s not the drinking that the issue, it’s the driving.