9 December 2022

Drink Driving – you won’t forgive yourself.

Our message for this campaign, “You won’t forgive yourself”, was quoted by brain injury survivor, Derek Crilly. Derek is an example of how drink driving can change a person’s life forever.

Across Ireland, thousands of people continue to face arrest for drink driving. We want to do our best to change this. No one should be getting behind a wheel after having an alcoholic drink. Don’t drink and drive. You could destroy someone else’s life, as well as your own.


You won’t forgive yourself

— Derek, Brain Injury Survivor


After almost 30 years, Derek has bravely decided to share his story as a warning to anyone considering driving after taking alcohol. If you ever consider drink driving, we hope Derek’s story will deter you.

Derek was just 21 years old when he was left fighting for his life after a drunken lorry driver crashed into his car. It happened on a drive home after a hurling match with friends when the car he was in met a drunken lorry driver on the wrong side of the road.


The lorry crashed into the car and my life changed forever. I had head injuries and was put on life support for two weeks. I was even given the last rites because I was so badly injured.

A talented hurler and bright college student, Derek’s life as he knew it was wiped out in an instant. He was left blind and in a coma for two weeks. As well as losing his sight, Derek sustained serious physical and cognitive injuries.


I was unconscious for a long while and when I regained consciousness, I couldn’t see and I couldn’t speak. The accident took everything away from me.

Figures from the Road Safety Authority confirmed that alcohol is a factor in 39% of fatal crashes in Ireland and in 2017 almost 9,000 drivers were arrested here on suspicion of drink driving.

As an organisation dedicated to serving people whose lives have been torn apart by brain injury, we continue to be extremely concerned by the continuing high trend in drink driving and the often invisible, traumatic impact it has on families all around Ireland.


Brain injuries shatter lives and one of the biggest causes we see is road traffic accidents. Most people don’t know about brain injury and they don’t know the devastation it causes which is why it is extremely brave of Derek to share his story and put a face to the trauma people are living with every day. There are 120,000 people like Derek, living today with a disability after a brain injury in Ireland and what’s worse, there are 52 new brain injuries happening in this country every day. It is beyond concerning to see that already in the first nine months of this year, the drink driving trend continues with almost 6,600 motorists arrested so far for driving under the influence.

— Barbara O’Connell, Chief Executive and Co-Founder, Acquired Brain Injury Ireland

To support the work we do to rebuild lives shattered by brain injury, please donate today.

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We fully support the introduction of new drink driving penalties last month including a 3-month mandatory disqualification for anyone with blood alcohol concentration between 50mg-80mg. Please, don’t drink alcohol if you’re getting behind the wheel. Too many lives are lost and as we know all too well, too many young lives like Derek’s are robbed from them.

Derek’s story concluded with this statement:


Acquiring a brain injury at 21 years old means there will be a lot of dreams you may never see through. Life changes but it doesn’t end. Acquired Brain Injury Ireland has allowed me to set new goals and see different dreams.

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