Computer Based Alcohol Classes Work, Part IV

This is the fourth in a series of blogs looking at the effectiveness of online education generally, and Internet based alcohol awareness programs specifically. Recent studies have shown that learning about alcohol, drug and even sex using the Internet as the medium, can be more effective than traditional classroom instruction.

Simple video- and animation-based interactive courses in these disciplines turn out to be good ways of teaching subjects you may have giggled through in health class. And they’re increasingly being used all over the world with success now confirmed by peer-reviewed, controlled research. The results are important as online education continues to expand faster than its impact and effectiveness can be fully measured. As reported in

A recent study performed by the University of Toronto concluded that we are seeing significant and large effects on attitudes, knowledge, and also behaviors from online courses in nontraditional subjects.

A few of my students have taken both online and in-class alcohol classes. All three were in their early 20s and all three were female. Would it surprise you to learn that all three preferred the online alcohol class to my classroom version?

In the next blog in this series we will look at studies into the effectiveness of the Internet as a medium for alcohol classes.

Online Alcohol Classes Are Effective, Part III

As this headline suggests, this is the third in a series of blogs addressing the effectiveness of online alcohol classes. With a growing number of people involved in alcohol-related incidents, all with busy lives, online alcohol classes are becoming one of the remediation therapies mandated by the courts for an alcohol-related offense.

One of my most recent students, Jamie, likes to learn at the computer because she can work at her own pace, which is usually faster than her classmates. Her best friend, Kellie, also taking the online class likes the online version because there is no competing for the instructor’s attention she can re-read the material with her questions. As reported in

As interest in online education rages, the question as to the effectiveness of online alcohol classes work is slowly coming to light.

Evidence is mixed about how well online courses teach core subjects such as science, math or reading, with a recent large-scale Columbia study showing disadvantages to online learning for community college students.

But new research shows that, in certain topics, computer-based instruction is not only just as effective as the old-fashioned, in-person kind. It’s more effective.

These topics include sex, drugs and health — subjects in which privacy, personal comfort and customized information are especially important, and embarrassment or cultural taboos can get in the way of classroom teaching. An online alcohol class is the way to go.

Computerized Alcohol Education Classes Work, II

This is the second in a series of blogs looking at the effectiveness of online alcohol courses. So, who takes online alcohol classes?

As a counselor for both in-class and online alcohol classes I have a pretty good understanding of who takes the class. The vast majority of students already have had an alcohol-related incident and fall into two groups.

The first group has already been mandated to the online alcohol class by the judge. The second group is comprised of those who have an alcohol-related incident and are trying to take the online alcohol class as a measure showing their commitment and good faith, as well as their remorse, before a pending court date.

There are also students who take the online alcohol class because their parents caught them using alcohol and are making them take the class.

There is no doubt that online alcohol classes are effective for these students. However, I propose that all schools implement an 8-hour online alcohol class as part of each school year. This could be done in the computer lab at school or as homework.

The best way to keep a person from suffering multiple alcohol-related incidents, or drug-related incidents, is to continue to educate them to the point they do not choose to experiment with alcohol or other drugs in the first place.

Proof That Online Alcohol Classes Work!

As a counselor for both in-class and online alcohol and drug education classes I know how valuable these courses are. Now I have further proof to back me up.

In many of my alcohol classes I discuss the value with the students. I will admit that most are there as a “punishment” to try and keep them from making the same mistake. They certainly should not view it as a punishment, yet most do.

If you have ever taken an alcohol class, even an online alcohol class, you the value it has. If you have never taken an alcohol class, perhaps you have taken traffic school. Even if you didn’t want to be there, you know that the class changed the way that you think – at least for a while.

One of the benefits of an online alcohol class is there is no distraction from fellow students or instructors. It is important to take your online class in a quiet room and give yourself a good opportunity to absorb the material.

This is the first in a series of blogs looking at the effectiveness of online alcohol classes. If you or someone you care about has a drinking problem, please seek help as soon as possible. An online alcohol class is a good place to start, especially if you prefer to maintain total anonymity.

Tennessee Titans Tight End Understands Need for DUI Education

I have to admit that it is not often that I write a blog about driving under the influence (DUI) where a player from the national Football League (NFL) is a principle character and it is a positive message. I am always happiest when it is.

The tight end of the Tennessee Titans, Delanie Walker is pledging his support for stricter laws for convicted drunk drivers. As reported in

Walker recently sent a letter to lawmakers in Tennessee urging them to support bills which would require convicted drunk drivers to use an ignition interlock device. Currently, ignition interlock devices are not required for first-time DUIs.

Why is a young NFL player so interested in DUI laws? Unfortunately it is because he has first-hand experience with tragedy involving DUI behavior.

Walker, formerly with the 49ers, lost his aunt and uncle when an alleged drunk driver crashed into their vehicle the morning after Super Bowl XLVII at the Superdome.

If the bill passes, a mechanism that requires a driver to have a legal blood-alcohol content level before the car will start. Repeat offenders are required to use the device only after they have been caught driving with a blood-alcohol level of .15 percent or greater, though the state’s legal limit for driving is .08.

It’s always great to see athletes using their status for positive things. Far too frequently athletes use their status to manipulate the legal system, and often get breaks that normal folks wouldn’t get. Walker is correct when he says that this new law doesn’t discriminate. DUI offenders are DUI offenders, there’s no middle ground.

Right now, I am happy that a young man like Walker is using whatever fame or influence he has, to influence others to do the right thing.

DWI Class on Tap for Arrogant Offender

Have you ever heard the phrase, “attitude is everything?” What do you think? Make a good impression and people tend to like you. Be an arrogant jerk and people will respond in kind.

As the director for an online drug and alcohol program I am very aware of stories involving DUI and other alcohol-related offenses. Here is a tale worth sharing. As reported in

When a man from Union County, Pennsylvania was sentenced for a deadly crash, the judge called him the “most arrogant” defendant she ever saw in a courtroom.

After that, she sentenced him to almost the maximum amount of time allowed by law. They will respond in kind!

Twenty-two-year-old Christopher Wirth was sentenced to serve nine to 25 years in state prison.

Wirth addressed the court for almost 30 minutes, saying his trial, for causing the crash that killed his girlfriend was unfair.

In February, a jury convicted him in less than an hour of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence.

State police say he was driving drunk in January of 2012 and going 91 miles per hour when he crashed, killing his girlfriend, Allison Vonneida, 22, who died at the scene.

Wirth apologized to his 3-year-old daughter, who he shared with Allison Vonneida.

This is yet another example of how driving under the influence ruins people’s lives. It killed one young woman and left another without both parents for many years.

Another Elected Official Heading to DUI School

There is no doubt our elected representatives are no angels. The fact that their approval rating hovers at under 10% nationally is not even influenced by their outlandish, illegal behavior away from their post.

I am all for giving people a second chance. I tend to have less patience with someone the second time around – especially when it comes to driving under the influence (DUI) violations. As reported in

I know from first-hand experience the arrogance drinkers have. They feel they are OK to drive and will not get caught. A first DUI should shock them into sobriety. Yet unfortunately, that rarely happens.

Do you have any sympathy for this guy? Georgia State Rep. Chuck Sims, a Republican from Ambrose, is facing charges of driving under the influence, the second time the lawmaker has been charged with DUI in the past three years.

He was arrested after police officer saw his car accelerate and slide onto the shoulder of one of the city’s main highways.

It would be ironic if Sims was a champion of alcohol reform legislation – and he is – except not like you think he would be. Sims introduced legislation this year seeking to make it difficult for police to cite anyone leaving a bar or restaurant with an alcohol-related offense.

I will be following this case as it progresses. He seems to think he will be found innocent. I say, that with two alcohol-related incidents, Sims needs a good alcohol class and counseling because he has a problem with alcohol.

Computer Based Alcohol, Drug, and DUI Classes Proven Effective, Part V

As a counselor for classroom and internet based alcohol programs, I often discuss how the Internet can be used as an effective educational tool for my students. What do you think? Can the Internet guide one's behavior? My neighbor is an 84-year-old judge who refuses to retire and he insists you can’t “learn a darn thing on a computer.”

Recent studies seem to prove my friend the judge wrong. As reported in

A series of independent research studies has confirmed the effectiveness of online education about alcohol awareness in the United States. In the largest, the researchers found a short-term reduction in harmful behaviors related to drinking among college freshmen at 15 colleges who took an online course. Similar studies at the University of West Florida and Villanova and Roger Williams found similar results.

The NIH-funded study of online alcohol-awareness classes found that they were most effective when more freshmen took the class at the same time, suggesting that peer pressure plays a role — though the results had dissipated by the spring semester, meaning more follow-up was needed.

If you or someone you care about suffers from a problem with alcohol I urge you to seek help immediately. If you prefer to maintain total anonymity an online alcohol, drug, or DUI class is a good place to start.

DUI School for Tony Denunzio, Part II

This is a follow-up blog continuing to look at the driving under the influence (DUI) case of Tony Denunzio. This is like the OJ Simpson trial for DUI – except Denunzio is hardly a household name.

In this case, Denunzio’s attorney basically got his client’s blood-alcohol concentration test deemed circumstantial and thus unimportant (he blew a .09). The prosecution could’ve tried the case without the BAC evidence, but would have been hard-pressed to convince a jury of Denunzio’s guilt. In video footage of his driving the night of his arrest, Denunzio makes a few small traffic violations, but nothing that necessarily indicates he was under the influence. As reported in

Was Denunzio drunk? He probably had been drinking and was over the legal limit. However, it became the actions of the arresting officer that is the issue.

The video from inside the police cruiser showed Denunzio getting out of his car and looking back toward Officer Aaron Tudor, who quickly jumped out of his cruiser and told Denunzio, “Stay in your car.” When Denunzio slowly turned his head away from the officer, Tudor came up behind him, grabbed his left arm, and pushed him toward Denunzio’s SUV. Tudor — then a four-year veteran of the department — performed a leg sweep, and Denunzio fell to the ground. Soon after, Tudor started striking Denunzio with his knee and his open palm. (Witnesses described closed-fist punching.) Denunzio then looked to be on his knees with the officer sort of straddling his back, but both of their faces were out of the camera’s view. Tudor could be seen using his Taser in the “drive stun” mode.

What the heck was he thinking? I still think Denunzio would be best-served by taking a 24 or 30 hour alcohol awareness class and DUI program. The cop needs to lose his job.

Does Tony Denunzio Need a Comprehensive DUI Class?

Even if you beat the rap that does not mean you are completely innocent. It just means you are not guilty. Sometimes a good attorney can make a black and white case go gray. This is a case of DUI where the attorney became the issue.

The DUI case against Tony Denunzio — who made headlines in October 2011 after his violent arrest was partially captured on video — was dismissed back in April after it became clear she wouldn’t be able to use blood-alcohol content test results as evidence in Denunzio’s retrial. As reported in

How can you not use the results of a blood-alcohol test?

His blood was drawn 48 minutes after his arrest, and registered at a 0.09 percent, above the legal limit of 0.08 percent — and it was deemed irrelevant to whether he was driving under the influence of alcohol. With that result there is no way to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was driving under the influence of alcohol without the DOJ’s expert testimony regarding the defendant’s blood alcohol content.

Again, how can this happen?

During Denunzio’s first trial — he was originally facing two separate charges of driving with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08 percent or above and driving under the influence — the judge dismissed the charge of driving with a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 percent or above. His attorney had argued that blood-alcohol tests are circumstantial evidence. With circumstantial evidence, if there are two or more reasonable conclusions and one suggests innocence and another, guilt, the one pointing to innocence must be accepted.

An expert for the prosecution admitted Denunzio could have had a 0.079 percent blood-alcohol level at the time of driving, and the judge sided with him in his argument that it would not be appropriate to extrapolate back to the time Denunzio was driving.

We will follow up on this blog with another looking at how everything eventually transpired. I think we all would agree that Denunzio needs to complete a 30 hour online alcohol program and likely may have a problem with alcohol.