For Kimberly Sizemore, each day is an opportunity to remind people not to drink and drive.
During the holiday season, when there’s an uptick in impaired driving, it’s more even imperative, the MDOT employee said.
She speaks from experience.
Her son, Bennett Kriewald, was seriously injured in May 2020 when his Dodge Status was struck head-on by a Dodge Ram truck whose driver’s blood alcohol content was four times the legal limit. The crash occurred in Pasadena, Md. and on the same day that Kriewald, then 27, attended his grandmother’s funeral.
“Every day it is imperative for people to realize the choice they make to drink and drive impacts not only themselves but others on the road,” Sizemore said. “This holiday season, I hope for everyone to make the choice to drive sober to avoid hurting innocent people like my son Bennett.”
She recently shared her story at the 18th annual Maryland Remembers event. The event, which honors victims of impaired driving, brought together nearly 50 family members and friends at the State House Rotunda in Annapolis on November 22.
She was joined at the event by Governor Larry Hogan, Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Secretary Greg Slater, MDOT Motor Vehicle Administrator and Governor Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative Chrissy Nizer, and Superintendent Colonel Woodrow Jones III of the Maryland State Police. The organizers were Maryland Remembers, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP).
“Hearing stories like Kim and Bennett’s are reminders that the choice to drink and drive impacts more people than just yourself,” said Administrator Nizer. “We need all motorists to think twice before getting behind the wheel and potentially changing someone else’s life because of a choice they made.”
In 2020, 120 people died and more than 2,600 were injured on Maryland’s roads due to impaired driving., according to state police and the Maryland Highway Safety Office (MHSO). More than 14,170 people were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, with 1,345 of the arrests from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, according to the agencies.
“Even one death is one too many, which is why we must continue working together, we must continue to tell the stories of those we have lost, and we must continue doing everything in our power to save lives and to prevent future tragedies,” Governor Hogan said.
Secretary Slater mentioned that MDOT was one of four states selected to be part of a National Governor’s Association Learning Collaborative aimed at finding new ways to combat impaired driving.
“We will not stop working until we’ve achieved our mission of zero fatalities, so no family has to endure what you have endured,” he told the families in attendance.
Governor Hogan and Sizemore emphasized the need for harsher sentencing for repeat DUI offenders and commended the progress that has already been made.
In 2019, the governor signed House Bill 707 into law. It increased the penalty for drunken drivers with more than three prior convictions to 10 years in prison. The driver who struck Bennett’s car was the first to be sentenced under the new law.
To watch Sizemore speak at this year’s Maryland Remembers event, click on this link: https://vimeo.com/650417594/4081acf453.