CELEBRITY INEBRIATES ASIDE, DRIVING DRUNK IS DEAD WRONG

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Paris Hilton claims she only had one margarita. She blew a .08 on the Breathalyzer, the minimum blood-alcohol level to warrant an arrest. She just was going to get a burger.

No matter. We just love it when our celebrities get into trouble. Late-night jokesters were having a field day after Paris Hilton’s drunken-driving arrest on Sept. 7. They’re calling the incident Plaster of Paris.

Said Leno: “She was taken away in handcuffs — and not the pink fuzzy ones she’s used to.” “This has to be the most embarrassing moment for Paris Hilton since the release of her CD.”

Her one phone call was to room service. When given a field sobriety test, she couldn’t recite the alphabet. Doesn’t mean anything. She couldn’t recite the alphabet before the margarita.

Leno also said that upon her arrest, Hilton started blaming the Jews, which brings us to our next celebrity.

Mel Gibson was arrested for drunken-driving on July 28. He allegedly launched into an anti-Semitic tirade, blaming the Jews for “all the wars in the world.” The actor was put on probation for three years, had his license restricted for 90 days, fined $1,300, ordered to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and told to enroll in an alcohol-abuse program. In addition, he has three months in which to get circumcised.

Hey, at least his mug shot wasn’t as bad as, say, Nick Nolte’s. Gibson looked crocked. Nolte looked embalmed. Time and space prohibit me from writing about Shannen Doherty, Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, David Carradine, Wynonna Judd or the repeat offenders, David Crosby, James Brown and (retire the medal) Robert Downey Jr. And we haven’t even mentioned our athletes.

But for all the jokes, drunken driving is serious business. Ask any parent who has lost a teen to the ravages of alcohol. Ask Chelmsford’s Benton Burgess, whose son Garrett was sentenced to a wheelchair for life after a drunken driver smashed into the family car when Benton and Garrett were heading home from hockey practice on Sunday morning. Garrett was 6 at the time.

When former New England Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe did a stage dive at the Paradise Club in Boston back in 1998 and injured one of the concertgoers, I remember telling my kids, “Nothing good happens in a bar. Nothing.”

I hope the lesson got through but still, I worry.

Paris’ reaction to her arrest last week? “Oh, it was nothing.” She was driving while impaired but it was nothing.

It was September 1983 when I took my last drink. I woke up one morning and my teeth were coming through my bottom lip. My shirt was torn and there was blood on my pillow. My eye looked like Tony Conigliaro after he got hit by the Jack Hamilton fastball in 1967.

I reached into my pocket and felt my car keys. I ran outside and looked at my car. Not a scratch on it. I don’t remember driving home. Thankfully, I didn’t kill anybody. To this day and for the rest of my life, I will firmly believe that God protected me and everyone else from myself that night. I was single at the time and the only person I had to stare at the morning after was the guy whose face I shave in the mirror. He was staring back at me through his one good eye and shaking his head in disgust.

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