Does New Mexico Need an 8-Hour Alcohol Awareness Class?

There is not a state in the country that is not suffering from the vices of drug and alcohol addiction. One of the state’s that has received the most attention is New Mexico. Of course having one of the top rated television shows, “Breaking Bad,” a show about crystal meth, set in the state, doesn’t help.

For years, New Mexico has had one of the highest rates of alcohol-related traffic deaths in the nation. The state has tried to make the state’s highways and rural roads safer, usually spurred by the latest horrific accident. As reported in

The most recent idea would forbid many people convicted of drunken driving from buying alcohol anywhere — stores, restaurants or bars. If it passes, it would be among the most restrictive drunken-driving laws in the nation.

Believe it or not, but New Mexico already has some of the most stringent DUI penalties in the country. Under New Mexico law, people convicted of drunken driving are required to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles, typically for one year for a first offense. Drivers have to breathe into the device to start the ignition, and it does not allow the car to start if it detects a threshold level of alcohol on the driver’s breath.

I think these are great efforts, and combined with New Mexico alcohol classes should help in the fight against DUI.

If You Have Received More Than One DWI Go to DUI School

As a counselor for classroom and web based alcohol and drug courses, and a recovering alcoholic myself, I see many repeat DUI offenders. Do you know someone who has received a DUI? How about someone with more than one DUI?

One of the basic principles I live by is that if you have two or more alcohol-related incidents, you have a problem and should seek help immediately. As reported in

This holds true for DUIs or a domestic violence charge where alcohol was involved.

Think about that when you read about Macie Pridgen. How can he get help for what is obviously a serious problem with alcohol?

Pridgen has more than 15 traffic infractions and four DUI convictions. The good news is that he will not be on the roads for at least the next five years since he will be in the pokey. Rarely do you see such a strong sentence for drinking and driving.

Do you think stronger penalties, with long prison sentences are the answer? I don’t. We need to think outside the box and find a way to prevent recidivism. Any ideas?

When he pleaded guilty to his fourth DUI offense and he also plead guilty to possession of cocaine. Not surprisingly, this incident occurred during McCall's suspended sentences, when he was ordered to be on good behavior from previous DUI offenses.

McCall is an example of a repeat offender who hasn’t learned his lesson despite three previous DUI convictions. He doesn’t appreciate or fear suspended jail time and he continues to risk the safety of himself and others.

How can rehabilitate a man like Pridgen? Will alcohol classes work? Perhaps if he had taken a DUI class (learn more here) early on he may never had started drinking in the first place.

DUI Classes Prevent Recidivism

As a counselor for online DUI classes I can tell you a good percentage of my students feel that the primary goal of an alcohol class is punishment for an alcohol-related offense. What do you think?

The true purpose of the alcohol class is to help students keep from having a repeat of their negative alcohol-related issue. Repeat DUI offenses are a perfect example. Perhaps if these DUI offenders had taken a good alcohol class they may not have continued to drink and drive with such reckless abandon. As reported in

Ixchel Susan Rollins of Napa, California was arrested for driving under the influence for the sixth time. She was driving a BMW and miserably failed field sobriety tests. In addition to felony DUI, she was booked for violating probation and driving on a suspended license.

The 55-year-old Rollins had previous convictions for DUI in 1991, 2000, 2006 and 2007.

Do you think a good alcohol class could have hurt?

Not to be out-done, Jonathan Crank was arrested for his 7th DUI violation.

The 32-year-old Crank previously was arrested twice in 24 hours for driving under the influence.

Crank was allegedly driving his 2012 Chevy Silverado through downtown just after 2 a.m. when an officer noted the man's vehicle returned with canceled insurance. Before she could initiate a traffic stop, she watched the truck swerve out of its lane.

The arresting officer noted the strong smell of booze, and Crank refused to get out of his vehicle or answer questions. I hope he becomes a pedestrian for life. Perhaps an alcohol class will get him back on the right path.

Do Berkeley Residents Need California Alcohol Classes?

There is no denying that Berkeley, California is one of the most liberally leaning cities in the United States, ranking right alongside Boulder, Colorado. The locations is also a tank for some of the nation’s greatest minds. Alcohol and other drugs have been a part of the Berkeley culture for almost 50 years.

Berkeley's long love-hate relationship with alcohol enters a new round this week when the City Council reconsiders its drunken-driving policies. As reported in

The proposal, put forth by the Peace and Justice Commission, urges the council to take a broad approach to the issue and not just focus on increasing penalties, which unduly affect people of color and the poor, commissioners said.

Driving under the influence of alcohol "is a problem in Berkeley, absolutely," said Peace and Justice chair Noah Sochet. "But Berkeley is a vibrant city with a lot of responsible, educated adults, and I think we can come up with a creative solution that's more fair."

The issue came up in 2011 when Councilman Kriss Worthington asked the commission to look at a DUI program in Oakley, which forces those convicted of drunken driving to reimburse the city for its costs, including the arresting officer's time.

But the commission found that, according to several studies, African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to be arrested for drunken driving than whites, and that DUI suspects who hired private attorneys were much less likely to be convicted than those who couldn't afford to.

The upshot is that tougher DUI penalties disproportionately affect poor people of color, and Berkeley should look at other options aside from increasing punishments, the commission concluded.

"This shows that we need to be careful before we plunge into this," Worthington said. "We don't want to adopt something with unintended pitfalls."

The commission suggests a wide-ranging approach, with input from the public health, public safety, transportation and mental health commissions. The goal will be education, not punishment or teetotaling, commissioners said.

"This is not us telling the public, 'You drink too much,' " said Peace and Justice vice chair George Lippman. "We want to take a modern, realistic position and look at this as a social issue, not just a criminal justice issue."

Berkeley's DUI rate is not significantly higher than other cities', but because it's a college town officials take alcohol issues seriously. Last year, Berkeley police arrested 254 people for driving while drunk, and countywide there were 585 alcohol-related accidents, 24 of them fatal.

For decades, Berkeley banned hard-liquor sales within a mile of campus, and even now the city has relatively few bars compared to other college towns with 35,000 students.

The Telegraph Avenue area south of campus, for example, has only three pubs now that the Bear's Lair and Raleigh's have closed. A party school it's not.

But it's also a town that loves food and good restaurants, and alcohol is an integral part of the culinary scene. Groceries feature long aisles of Pinot Noir and pale ale, and upscale wine shops are plentiful.

"You certainly don't want people driving under the influence, but maybe it makes more sense to see if our overall DUI policy is working," said City Councilman Gordon Wozniak. "Not just in Berkeley, but everywhere."

The council is scheduled to look at its DUI policy Tuesday. If it decides to revamp the policy, commissioners will return with more specific suggestions within a few months.

Alcohol Class and DUIs Help Reform Party Girl

I firmly believe that it is possible to learn from your mistakes. Hopefully, you will learn before it costs you your life. Consider “Party Girl” lucky.

Like many alcoholics, “Party Girl” did not realize she had a problem until very late in the game. Do you think getting a DUI was a wake-up call? Not even close. “Party Girl” known as Amber Balles had two DUIs within 31 days and still did not realize she had a problem. Why? As reported in

The DUI laws in Idaho are partially to blame. She felt that she barely got in trouble for the two DUIs so really there was nothing wrong with drinking and driving.

Balles may have finally seen the light. She is coming clean about her behavior and her family history of alcoholism.

She has always been known for her ability to party, even deemed "Budweiser Barbie" by a former probation officer.

How bad was her problem before she sought help? How about drinking every single day to the point of passing out and not remembering how you got home and prayed your car was outside. Every single day!

Even after two DUIs, she continued to drink at parties and local bars after being put on misdemeanor probation, but after having one too many, she left the bar one night and drove home.

While she managed to make it into her driveway, waiting behind her was a police officer...arrested for her third DUI.

The total cost of her three DUIs is about $25,000. Wouldn’t we all like to have $25K. I hope she continues to help keep others sober.

New York Giants Star Need an 8-hour Online Alcohol Class

Athletes and their family members are often subject to undue scrutiny of their personal lives. This most-definitely is true in New York City.

New York Giants offensive lineman David Diehl now has personal knowledge of this scrutiny. Diehl may be able to run over the block of opposing running backs, but could not out-run the long arm of the law. He pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol and been ordered to undergo court-ordered treatment. Perhaps an 8-hour online alcohol class? As reported in

The 32-year-old left tackle admitted he crashed his BMW in Queens in June 2012 after watching a soccer game at a bar. A breath test showed his blood alcohol content was more than double the legal limit. No one else was injured in the crash.

As part of his punishment, Diehl must continue in the NFL substance abuse treatment program and complete a second program. He'll also wear a monitoring bracelet and cannot drive.

So Does Alonzo Mourning’s Wife

Tracy Mourning, the wife of former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning, was arrested and charged with DUI. Like many arrested for DUI, Tracy was originally for other traffic violations - speeding on two occasions and then failing to fully stop at a red light.

The 42-year-old wife of the former NBA all-star failed a roadside sobriety test after the officer smelled alcohol on her breath. Unfortunately, the Dui coincided with Alonzo Mourning's 42nd birthday.

I hope Tracy too takes a good 8-hour online alcohol class and continues to do the good community and charitable work she is known for.

Take DUI Class Before Ruining Your Career

Do you think a simple driving under the influence (DUI) violation could ruin your career? Perhaps if you are a truck driver or a NASCAR racer it would, for sure, but you may be surprised at how much a Dui could affect your livelihood.

One person finding out how a Dui affects his job and life is Illinois Auditor General William Holland who was cited for driving under the influence of alcohol. As reported in

The 61-year-old Holland was originally spotted for an illegal lane change. He received tickets for both drunken driving and improper lane usage. The incident occurred about midnight, and officers smelled alcohol on his breath and noticed his eyes were glassy and his speech slurred.

Holland failed field sobriety tests and refused to take a breath test. Such refusal triggers a suspension of a license for a year, according to the police documents and the Illinois secretary of state’s office.

Holland is dismissing the charge and makes no apology for his actions saying that what he does on his own time and his own vehicle are his own business. Nice response, right?

Just appointed last year to his third, 10-year term as the state’s government watchdog, Holland has been in his statewide oversight position since 1992. When the House and Senate voted to reappoint him for a third term, he won widespread praise from lawmakers for his investigations into the administration of Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

It would be a lifestyle change for sure if he loses his job. Holland’s annual salary is 150,346. I hope he commits to an online DUI class and a life of sobriety.

Cop Understands Need for California DUI Classes

Police officers are in the line of fire every day. By that I do not mean that they have people shooting at them on a daily basis, however, they do have life-changing situations confronting them on a daily basis. Facing off with lawbreakers, including those suspected of driving under the influence, can be very stressful.

In his last year as a full-time patrol cop in Morgan Hill, California Steve Pennington decided to wage a one-man campaign against drunken driving. So he gave up day shifts to work night and swing shifts exclusively, a prime time to go after drunken drivers. As reported in

His dedication paid off.

Pennington arrested 95 people on suspicion of driving under the influence in 2012, the most of any officer in Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco counties. He was recognized last week during a banquet sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving for his efforts as the top DUI arresting officer in those three counties.

Pennington said he became inspired to go after DUI suspects after hearing stories of people whose loved ones were killed by drunken drivers. One story that stayed with him throughout his career was that of an off-duty San Francisco cop whose wife was killed by a drunken driver. The officer and his wife were driving home when he stopped to help someone on the roadway. As the officer helped the stranded motorist, a drunken driver plowed into the cop's car, killing his wife.

The 55-year-old Pennington was responsible for nearly 43 percent of the 222 DUI arrests made by Morgan Hill police in 2012. Does this mean others were not doing their jobs?

Although Pennington has retired, his days hunting down drunken drivers aren't over. Pennington plans on staying on as a reserve officer and work traffic enforcement around schools or DUI enforcement.

I am sure Pennington would agree that increased education through California DUI classes are a good idea. After all, we all want to keep drunken drivers off the road.

Don’t Worry About Price of Alcohol

If you are a regular reader of my blogs, you know that I firmly believe that the price of alcohol has little effect on the drinking habits of alcoholics. A recent Canadian study seems to show otherwise.

What do you think? Judge your own drinking habits and ask yourself if a price increase of 10% would keep you from drinking alcohol. If you do not have a drinking or drug problem, think about someone you know who does. Do you think they would curb their use, or cease using all together if the price increased 10%? As reported in

The Canadian study found that increasing the minimum price of alcohol by 10 percent can lead to immediate and significant drops in drink-related deaths and may also have long-term beneficial health effects.

Canadian researchers found that deaths caused by alcohol between 2002 and 2009 in the western province of British Columbia dropped when the minimum alcohol price was increased, while alcohol-related deaths rose when more private alcohol stores were opened.

For those of you wondering, despite all the legislation in the United States, our government does not currently set a minimum alcohol price.

The major finding of this study was that increased minimum alcohol prices were associated with immediate, substantial and significant reductions in wholly alcohol attributable deaths, with a 10 price rise followed by a 32 percent death rate drop.

I am not sure I buy that. As a counselor for both in-class and online alcohol classes, and as a recovering alcoholic and drug addict myself, users will use. If the drug of choice becomes too expensive, users will not quit, but will find a less expensive alternative. We are seeing that very effect now with respect to prescription medications. As they are harder to find and more expensive, users are switching to the cheaper and easily-found alternative – heroin!

A 12 Hour Alcohol Awarenss Class Could Save Your Marriage

Is it possible that a 12 hour alcohol awareness class could save your marriage? You bet it is!

The issue comes when one spouse enjoys imbibing in fermented beverages and the other abstains from booze or drinks very little. As reported in

Is it surprising that when it comes to drinking — as in so many other facets of marriage — compatibility may be key to keeping couples together?

A recent study which looked at 19,977 married couples in one county in Norway reported that spouses who consume about the same amount of alcohol were less likely to divorce than pairs where one partner is a heavy drinker and the other is not — especially when the wife is the one doing the drinking.

Wives Should Take 12 Hour Alcohol Awareness Class

The study found that divorce was generally more common in couples with high rates of alcohol consumption, but that the highest divorce rates were found in couples where only the woman was a heavy drinker. Among couples where the wife reported being a heavy drinker and the husband a light drinker, the divorce rate was 26.8%; when the positions were switched and the husband was the heavy drinker, the divorce rate was 13.1%.

Why do you think that is? Are women more tolerant of men’s behavior?

In couples where both members were heavy drinkers, the divorce rate was 17.2%.

How often do you think light drinking couples divorced? Couples in the study who both reported being light drinkers divorced just 5.8% of the time.

The best approach might be for husbands and wives to strive for matching amounts of light or moderate drinking. Either way, I think couples should each take an 12-hour online alcohol class and discuss their thoughts among themselves and on our blog!