As strange as it sounds, this is a true story out of Longmont, Colorado. Last week a 32-year-old Boulder woman, Lisa Norton rammed her Ford pickup truck into the Nissan Coupe driven by Gabriel Nelson. Nelson died at the scene and two of his passengers, a woman and child were life-flighted to a local hospital.
No stranger to driving under the influence, or getting caught, Norton decided to try and flee the scene by running across a couple of streets, jumping into a lake and trying to swim to safety. Unfortunately, boaters who witnessed the entire scene apprehended Norton in the middle of the lake, called 911, and turned her over to police!
History of DUI
While toxicology reports had not come back yet, Longmont police feel certain Norton was legally intoxicated when the accident occurred. In this case, as with many DUI accidents, you cannot give Norton the benefit of the doubt.
Just 2 days prior to this accident Norton pleaded guilty to DUI and was sentenced to 12 months of probation and alcohol awareness classes. Norton was arrested on several charges, including suspicion of DUI-related vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, DUI and driving with a revoked license.
It is cases like Norton where you really wish there were even stronger penalties for DUI in Colorado.
Adolescence is one of the most frightening times for a parent. This is where peers have as much or more influence over our children’s behavior than any other time in their lives. It also is the time they feel indestructible and are exposed to a variety of life-changing and life-threatening situations.
While we would love to chaperone or at least be a fly on the wall at all times. But that is an impossibility. There are, however, steps that both parents and teens can take to lessen the chances of negative influences and impacts on our children.
From my years of teaching alcohol awareness classes and minor in possession classes, here are a few tips. I welcome all my readers to reply with tips of their own.
Tips For Parents
- Know and discuss the school code of conduct before the event with your child – so few parents actually know the school code-and the same could be said for the child. Make sure not only that they know this code, but will abide by the rules.
- Know who your child will be hanging out with – It would also be a good idea to speak with some of the other parents to make sure they are on the same page.
- Discuss the dangers of drinking and driving.
- Talk with your child about the dangers of club drugs, warning signs and who to notify for assistance.
- Pre-plan and role-play answers that your child can use to get out of uncomfortable situations. (e.g., offered alcohol, getting a ride from an intoxicated driver, unwanted sexual advances, etc.)
- Discuss guidelines and a curfew. Discuss the consequences of violating these rules. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.
- Discuss travel plans and make sure they know even if they drink – they are not to drive nor get in the car with a drunken driver!
- Know who is driving and who will be a passenger. Limit the number of passengers to increase safety and reduce driver distractions.
- Talk to your teenager about the serious dangers of drinking alcohol such as alcohol overdose or alcohol poisoning.
- If your child’s’ plans change, confirm the change with the parents of other children.
- Remind your child that you are there for them, if they need a ride home or to an after-prom affair.
Tips for Teens
- Alcohol is illegal for persons under the age of 21. Underage drinking is illegal and can result in arrest, injury or worse!
- Don’t let friends drink and drive.
- Plan ahead—make sure you have a safe plan for travel.
- Discuss your plans with your friends; remind each other about responsible decision-making and confronting peer pressure. This may be very difficult, but stay strong to your conviction so you do not become a statistic!
- Do not accept any drinks from someone you do not know. If you leave your drink, discard it and get a new one.
- Do not leave your possessions unattended.
- Learn the warning signs for alcohol/drug poisoning and intoxication; contact 911 for assistance and immediate treatment.
- Take extra money or have a responsible person available for transportation for a safe ride home or in case an emergency arises.
- Remember to charge your cell phone and have it with you.
- Know where you are and where you are going; keep your parents and friends informed.
- Trust your instincts, if you feel endangered or uncomfortable, leave immediately.
- Intoxication by alcohol or drugs can lead to poor judgment and dangerous situations.
- Remember to contact your parents if your plans change.
- Practice and discuss answers you can use to get out of uncomfortable situations.
- Do not allow anyone in your car that has alcohol, drugs or weapons. It is dangerous and everyone in the car is at risk of getting arrested. This seems like a no-brainer, but it happens all the time.
Remember that a minor in possession class can be very helpful to learn about the dangers of drinking. I recommend them highly for teens!
Sugar Ray Not So Sweet After All
One of my all-time greatest athletes to watch was Sugar Ray Leonard. His epic bouts with Roberto Duran, Tommy Hearns and Marvin Hagler transcended the boxing ring. Sugar Ray was always to “good guy” beating the mean monsters of the ring for all of other “good guys.”
It turns out, like many things in life, there is more than meets the eye. In his new tell-all autobiography, “The Big Fight: My Life in and Out of the Ring”, the 55-year-old admits to marital infidelity and abusing both alcohol and cocaine.
While he doesn’t come out and say alcohol and cocaine ruined his career, they certainly help tear his personal life apart. He still is mostly estranged from his children. He is mending his relationship with his sons Ray, Jr and Jerrell.
The big problem I have with this book is it seems like just another attempt by a fading star to capture one more moment of celebrity. He is not so apologetic about his behavior, in fact he uses his behavior of philandering and drug use to show that he overcame obstacles in order to succeed.
While I know everyone has faults and even Sugar Ray is no impervious to the evils of alcohol and drugs, but Leonard’s message should have been stronger about the ill effects he suffered from using these vices rather than showing what a strong person he is because he became a great boxer in spite of these “roadblocks” in his life.
My feelings toward Sugar Ray have definitely soured.
One of the young up and coming members of the Republican Party in Iowa just ruined his political career. Senate Caucus Chairman John McGee was released from the Ada County Jail on a $5,000 bond after a short 10-minute hearing last week.
Grand Theft Auto and DUI
The 38-year-old Caldwell Republican was arrested early Sunday morning and charged with a felony truck theft and misdemeanor DUI after police found him in the backseat of an SUV — towing a 20-foot trailer — that witnesses say he initially tried to drive off in.
It appeared from the brief hearing that McGee's attorney may argue that a medical issue was at play. Police say McGee registered a .15 blood alcohol content — nearly twice the legal driving limit of .08.
McGee is serving his fourth term in the Idaho Senate, and had been considered by many political watchers to be a contender for higher office.
A former aide to Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, McGee has been mentioned frequently as a candidate for higher office, including governor. He is the chairman of the Canyon County GOP.
Police say McGee was drinking late Saturday night at a Boise golf course clubhouse, but left on foot. Sometime before 3 a.m., he got in a Ford Excursion with the keys still in it and tried to drive it away. He ended up jack-knifing the rig in a nearby driveway, according to two teen boys who say they watched the scene play out.
The boys' mother, Tracey Carleton, said Sunday that McGee appeared to be disoriented and hallucinating.
There is no doubt Katy Perry is a talented performer. The wife of current Hollywood front man Russell Brand is currently on tour for her breakthrough album “California Dreams.”
While it is nice to hear that the young Diva takes good care of herself on the road – no alcohol, coffee or other foods that may affect her voice, it is disheartening to hear her plans for a huge Bacchanalian Orgy when the tour ends later this year.
"I'm pretty boring on the road because I save it all for the stage, so I'm on a strict vitamin diet” she admits. "I can't eat spicy food or dairy because they're bad for your voice. I can't even do coffee. So you'll find me staring at the white wine in the fridge backstage.
“But when the tour is over I'm going to be a devil and hit a wild streak. I'll be face down in the porcelain.”
I mean really, do we need to hear the graphic details of how incredibly inebriated you plan on getting? Perry is a rising star in the entertainment industry, but she already is getting the reputation for being very “Diva-ish.” If she doesn’t control her behavior her image may tarnish forever.
It is not too often that you hear adults espousing the benefits of playing a video game. It is less frequent to hear educators not only condone but promote the playing of video games in the classroom. But that is just what is happening at various schools around the country with a video game that promotes alcohol awareness in a positive light.
Making Smart Choices
The activity was part of the, “Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don't Mix” initiative, which encourages middle school students to talk with their parents and other role models about the perils of underage drinking.
Instead of killing terrorists or racing cars this game discusses the dangers of underage drinking and promotes helping the children make healthy choices!
Like using a Wii, students tapped their feet on a pad to make onscreen characters run and jump along a seaside path or down a supermarket aisle. The quicker they tapped, the faster they ran in the game.
At frequent intervals, the game would stop them to ask a variety of true-or-false questions, including whether drinking was cool, if booze boosts athleticism or helps grades and whether it was OK to say “no” to peer pressure.
Any game that promotes communication and education about alcohol is a good thing. Hopefully, this will become a nationwide program. It's a good alternative to minor in possession classes!
For those of you who drink and drive and for those of us who have many times in our past we always think of worst-case scenarios. Worst case is always death! It is your own death, the death of your passengers or the death of any person involved in an accident where you were driving under the influence.
A textbook case for this just came down last week when 24-year-old Michael Albers of Zion, Illinois was sentenced in a fatal accident when he was totally drunk. Albers was able to cop a plea by agreeing to plea guilty and was sentenced to 10 years in prison after he took the life of 22-year-old Danielle Trevithick when his SUV slammed into her vehicle in a head-on-collision.
When you hear all the details you really don’t want this guy to get off so easily. Not only was he totally blasted, with a BAC of .192, but he was driving 86 mph in a 40 mph zone. Albers was driving on a suspended license at the time.
If that wasn’t enough, Albers has an extensive criminal history dating back to 2003. He was issued multiple citations for driving on a suspended driver’s license, domestic battery, possession of a controlled substance and consumption of alcohol by a minor.
Under the plea Albers must serve at least 8.5 years before he is eligible for parole. There went his 20s!
“I don’t know how someone with a brain would use it in such a bad way,” the judge said in sentencing him.
Well said, Your Honor!
Addictions are difficult to break. Our brains are extremely powerful and once our mind s and bodies are addicted to something like drugs or alcohol, stopping is a hard to do. Even the most expensive rehabilitation centers have trouble getting addicts to quit.
As a counselor for alcohol awareness classes I can tell you that in order to stop addictive behavior you have to want to quit. Young Hollywood stars are bombarded with unimaginable wealth and an equal amount of opportunity to indulge in drugs and alcohol.
Lindsay Lohan is a poster child for “Hollywood Run Amok.” Lohan was in court again this week. The most current issue – she tested positive for alcohol while on probation.
Lohan is a Cat
Ms. Lohan must have been a feline in a past lifetime as she seems to have nine lives. The rules of her probation were straightforward – no drinking and no parties! Yet, she tested positive back on June 13th after a party in her home. She is currently serving a jail term for shoplifting and is under house arrest until June 29th.
So how could the judge not consider this a violation of her probation?
Judge Stephanie Sautner told Lohan on Thursday that she was guilty of "poor judgment" but that she did not think the actress violated her probation by testing positive for alcohol during the recent test. Sautner said it was unclear whether the actress must still refrain from drinking for her probation to remain intact and added that Lohan could not have any parties at home.
She had better be careful because her behavior and raucous parties have drawn the ire of her neighbors. While the LAPD may not have enough manpower to watch her 24-7, her angry neighbors are more than willing to “drop a dime” on her whenever she steps out of line. If it’s not the neighbors, it will be the paparazzi!
It all begs to question whether Lohan will ever recover from her addictions. Will she become a success story like Robert Downey, Jr., or a tragic story like River Phoenix?
I have to admit to having liked the MTV television show “Jackass.” The crazy stunts performed by the members of this groundbreaking show which has spawned an unearthly number of imitators was downright crazy, but usually made me laugh.
Of all shows ever created, perhaps no title better suits a show than “Jackass.” Johnny Knoxville and Bam Margera are extremely talented individuals, even if they have a screw loose.
Death of a Jackass
It was with sadness, yet not surprise that I learned of the recent death of “Jackass” alum Ryan Dunn. With numerous funny skits like “Party Boy” Dunn was one of my favorite “Jackass” performers.
If his death in a fiery auto accident came as no surprise, you can imagine how not surprised I was to find out that he was drunk and speeding. Hmm, lots of alcohol, a Porsche and high speeds – a perfect recipe for the death of a true Jackass!
Reports from the scene say that the 34-year-old Dunn and his companion, Zachary Hartwell, 30, were travelling more than 132 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone. His 2007 Porsche soared more than 40 yards through the woods before hitting a tree and bursting into flames. His blood alcohol concentration was 0.196.
Another not-so-big surprise was the news that Dunn had received 23 driving violations in the past 13 years, including 10 speeding tickets and one DUI!
I wonder how long it will be before another “Jackass” follows Dunn to heaven.
Sports is one of America's favorite pastimes. Baseball is the quintessential American pastime. Taking your child to a baseball game is as American as apple pie and Norman Rockwell paintings. Too often, however, taking your kid to a game you subject yourselves to a litany of profanity, vulgarity and whatnot you certainly do not want to be around.
For the first time in my life I find myself in Omaha, Nebraska at the time of the NCAA College Baseball World Series. What an amazing atmosphere!
The Omaha residents are ever-so-friendly and the fans are the epitome of what good-natured sports competition is all about. Everyone is decked out in gear for their favorite team. If they are not decked out, you can figure they are locals just here to see some great baseball.
You might be asking yourselves why this rates as fodder for an alcohol awareness blog. Well, I think alcohol is central to this event. The reason - they do not sell it at the stadium!
The newly-opened TD Ameritrade Park is a gem of a ballpark and does not sell alcohol during the CWS. It was quite refreshing to look around and see everyone drinking bottles water and soda. The sober crowd was so affable that everyone sitting around us all made friends.
The lack of alcohol keeps everyone on an even and helps curb even the most vociferous of fans. Not once did I hear profanity, nor hear loud fans bashing the other team. It creates a healthy atmosphere for all involved.
If you ever get a chance to come out to Omaha for this event I would highly recommend it!