'Accident changed my life'
TINO Beth is lucky to be alive%after crashing his car into a semi-trailer while driving drunk. The 23-year-old recalls the night he decided to get behind the wheel intoxicated and ended up in hospital with a fractured skull. That night changed his life%forever, with Mr Beth swearing off alcohol and giving up his%partying ways. Mr Beth is one of the thousands of recorded drink-drivers caught on Tweed-Byron roads in the past seven years.%For five of those seven years the region has officially been the worst in New South Wales for drink-driving. Latest figures reported in the Tweed Daily News yesterday revealed the region is well on its way to capturing the unwanted title for a sixth time, with more than 950 drivers caught by local police in 2007. Mr Beth yesterday urged%people to consider the risks they take when they drive drunk and to think about their future. He told the Tweed Daily News that he looks on his accident as the best thing that has ever happened to him. Mr Beth had been binge-drinking and smoking marijuana at a party the night he crashed his car, but said the accident provided a catalyst for change, and forced him to take control of his life. The Kingscliff resident now avoids partying and focuses his energies on work and his girlfriend. "What do you want to do with your life? What kind of future do you want to have? What do you want to create? Just go out and do it," he said. Mr Beth, who now owns his own company, said his life had never been better than since he stopped drinking, but remembers the time when he was heading down a very different and dangerous path. By the time he was 18 he had gotten himself into a pattern of drinking to excess and then passing out at parties. The night of his accident he was at a party, some 40 minutes drive from his house. "I had gotten pretty wasted and passed out. I woke up at about 3am and the party was%over and everyone was asleep," he said. "I was pretty over it, and I thought it would be a challenge to drive home." Mr Beth said he lost his train of thought during the drive home and had a "micro-sleep". He said when he came to he could see his car's headlights reflected in the back of a semi-trailer parked on the side of the road. He tried to swerve, but his car crashed into the back of the semi-trailer. He was travelling about 100km/h and had a blood-alcohol reading of 0.109. When he came to he was in the hospital, confused and in pain. "When I woke up I didn't have a clue. I was in pain with tubes down my throat," he said. "I was in denial about what had happened." As well as fracturing his skull and having 24 stitches in his head, Mr Beth's seatbelt had%broken one of his ribs. When the realisation sank in that he had almost been killed, he decided to devote his time to making some serious changes to his life. He said he had to distance himself from his group of friends, who spent most of their free time getting "wasted". "I just detached from them," he said. "I was just happy to be alive, and they kept on doing what they had been doing, so I kept to myself." Mr Beth said there were other things young people could do to pass the time, rather than drinking to excess. "The way things are put in place, like with Christmas and New Year's, it's like everything revolves around getting drunk. But there are other social groups and networks you can get into."