How has drunk driving affected you, a friend or family member?

Shelby Michael

Shelby Michael, winner of Johnson Attorneys Group’s 2021 Never Drink and Drive Scholarship

Scholarship Winner

My name is Shelby Michael and I am a freshman at Appalachian State University, majoring in history education. When I was in kindergarten my life was turned upside-down by my mother’s decision to drink and drive. For years following the car accident that my younger sister and I had to experience from our mother’s drunken state, I found my life being ripped apart piece by piece. My childhood was impacted in an excruciatingly negative way by my mother’s addiction to alcohol.

Following the car accident, my mother lost her license and slowly after that, she also lost her parental rights. Drunk driving tore my mother from me and alcoholism never allowed her back into my life. It has been seven years since I have spoken to my mother. She ruined my childhood and put the lives of me and my sister in jeopardy.

For years I could not mentally recover from not having my mother in my life, especially because her addiction blinded her from seeing the impacts of her actions and instead put the blame on me. It was me who had to sit in front of a judge in my parents’ custody battle and speak the truth about my mother’s choice to drink and drive. For years I had to carry around the pain of that experience and blame I put on myself for my mother’s loss of parental rights. Not only that but every day I had to deal with being the only kid in the class who did not have her mother around and to this day I have never met someone who has been in a similar situation.

Drinking and driving impacted my mother as she lost her parental rights and cost her so much time and money to alcohol. My mother still faces the power of her addiction and has never been able to regain custody, complete her master’s degree, or sustain full-time employment. It took me a long time, but I am finally growing from my negative childhood experiences with my mother. Right now I am currently enrolled at Appalachian State University as a member of the Univesity’s Honors College.

Never have I ever consumed a drop of alcohol and I have made it my goal to be a good example to my younger siblings, future children, and my future students. I have stepped out of my comfort zone these past few years and finally opened up about my story to my friends and have inspired others to not drink alcohol. My goal is for everyone to know how alcoholism and drunk driving can have such direct negative effects on your own life and the lives of those dearest to you.

I hope one day everyone may realize that drunk driving is not just something that you hear about on the news or about a stranger, but that it impacts children, families, and friends and can be something that anyone can experience.


James Johnson

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