Illinois Courts Recognize Value in Alcohol Awareness Classes

The judicial systems in three Illinois counties (Warren, Henderson and Knox) are working together to establish alcohol classes for underage drivers who get a DUI. Citing the ingrained belied in adolescents that they are invincible, judges and prosecutors are trying to nip both minor in possession (MIP) and driving under the influence (DUI) offenses before they happen.

Teens Could Use Hard Dose of Reality

Don’t get me wrong – the life of a teenager can be very difficult. They face realities dealing with bullying and peer pressure every day.  The dose of reality I am speaking of are the consequences of their actions.

The county courts have not decided yet whether the classes would be an additional punishment or alternative sentence, but their aim is to force adolescents to come to terms with the results of their actions. Many teens aren't punished when the receive DUIs because their parents pay the fine.

"We are trying to bring a cold, hard dose of reality," Monmouth District Attorney Steven Glasgow said. "It will hurt more than a fine.They are going to see some things they wish they hadn't but that's exactly what will stick with them."

The Grim Reaper

Knox County Coroner Mark Thomas and Warren County Coroner William Underwood will alternate teaching the classes which will meet once a month and cost $100.

Underwood has taught alcohol classes for several years as a coroner. He estimates he has spoken to more than 1,500 students.

"We use graphic pictures. They need to see what can happen," he said. "They will have to answer questions in essay form."|

They ask three questions in the class.

  1. What do you think the family of the deceased felt about losing their loved one to a DUI?
  2. What do you think the deceased person would have done with their life had it not been cut short?
  3. What do you think an appropriate punishment would be for the person responsible for the death had this deceased victim been a loved one of yours?

Underwood said he also plans on having victim's advocates come to the class and tell the students what it feels like to lose someone in a DUI accident.

"It's another deterrent to try and curb underage drinking," Underwood said.

Long-term the hope is to keep statistics on recidivism rates. If the program leads people to think before they drink and drive it will be a success he said.

"All we can do is lead the horse to water and hope it makes a difference," Glasgow said. "Those individual clients will ultimately decide whether it is effective, but we have to get the ball rolling."

Woe to Drinking in Nevada

Notice to all you drivers out there – one place you want to obey all traffic laws is NEVADA.  You have heard me say before that I spend a good deal of time driving down in the state of Nevada. Actually, as a teacher for alcohol awareness classes, I spend a good deal of time driving all over this great country. 

Elected Politicians Should Know Better

It should be quite alarming to constituents in Nevada that their elected representatives have trouble staying on the right side of the law.  It’s hit and miss for this group of wrong doers – some keep their jobs with re-election and others get canned!

Our parent company is based in Nevada.  The city of Henderson, Nevada's attorney is going to be in need of legal representation of her own and most likely an alcohol awareness class.  Henderson City Attorney Elizabeth Quillen was arrested and charged with driving under the influence after she lost control of her vehicle hitting two parked cars, a pair of trees and finally a fire hydrant!

Quillen is far from alone with DUI behavior.  How about Nye County District Attorney Bob Beckett?  This upstanding elected official was responsible for two rollover crashes – in the same day!

Under House Arrest

Boulder City Council Member Karla Burton was arrested and charged with DUI back in 2007 when police found her passed out in her car.  Her BAC at the time was 0.274%.  Burton wasn’t finished; she later tested over 0.08% in court and spent some time under house arrest wearing an ankle monitoring bracelet.

The Police Too

In 1999 Metro Police commander Charles Davidaitis crashed into a street light, fire hydrant and fence before making it home.  He was accused of trying to get his wife to take the blame.  When his colleagues arrived on the scene her was belligerent before finally agreeing to a breath test.  Big surprise - 0.215%!

There are plenty more where these came from, let me tell you.  Beware citizens of Nevada who you elect.  If you are an elected Nevada official reading this – show some common sense!

Drinkers of the Middle Class – Beware

A study has found that middle-class drinkers are at a greater risk of dying from alcohol, as they get older, than lower-income groups.  The study proposes this is because they do not realize that they are drinking to excess.  FYI – this study occurred in India.

Official figures showed the risk of drinking among all socio-economic groups rises until middle age, but death rates among people on lower incomes peak in middle age, at which point the chances of dying begin to decrease.

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics showed that death rate among the most advantaged classes, such as lawyers and company bosses, rose steadily from 9.8 deaths per 100,000 men aged 45-49, to 23.5 deaths aged 60 to 64.

In contrast people in "routine" jobs such as van drivers and sewing machinists were at the greatest risk in middle age, with the death rate peaking at 52.2 per 100,000 men aged 50-54, and declining afterwards to a rate of 41.1 for those aged 60-64.

"While young people may be going out and drinking to excess on weekends, that pattern starts to tail off later in life," the Telegraph quoted Prof Michael Marmot, professor of epidemiology and public health at University College London, as saying.

"Some people will drink nine units a night and think that is moderate consumption because they are not going out and getting plastered, but in terms of their liver that is a harmful level of drinking."

"A more subtle pattern of heavy drinking, which the individual does not realise constitutes heavy drinking, may have a more prolonged effect. Both sorts of drinking are harmful but they cause different sorts of harm," he said.

The study was based on figures on alcohol-related deaths, including alcoholic liver disease, fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver, mental disorders due to alcohol use and accidental alcohol poisoning, between 2001 to 2003.

Alcohol abuse is a serious problem.  If you or someone you know is suffering from alcoholism I urge you to seek help.  If you prefer to maintain complete anonymity there are online alcohol awareness classes available as well.

Alcohol Class Humor

An elderly man is stopped by the police around 1 a. m. and is asked where he is going at this time of night.

The man replies, "I am going to a lecture about alcohol abuse and the effects it has on the human body. "

The officer then asks, "Really? Who is giving that lecture at this time of night?"

The man replies, "My wife."

The DUI That Got Away

There was definitely a time in my life where I did not trust police officers.  The fact that my body and mind were under the influence of alcohol and other drugs most certainly was a contributing factor. It would come as no surprise that I had run ins with the police on many occasions, many involving alcohol, drugs and shoplifting. 

News of the Weird

The story a supposed-drunken driver ramming into motorists not moving unfortunately is not uncommon. That a breathalyzer showed his blood-alcohol content at the time was 0.19 – not uncommon – but obviously this is on the really drunk side. That the supposed drunken driver is an off-duty police officer, also probably not too uncommon.  The fact that his legal counsel fully expects all charges to be dismissed – who, what, where – how is this going to happen?

This is the case currently going on against former police officer David Bisard in Indianapolis, Indiana.  There is no question that Bisard was driving the vehicle that struck to motorcyclists stopped at a red light. There is no question one of the two died from injuries sustained in that accident. So why on God’s Green Earth is he likely to get away with it?

Somehow the police testing and arresting Bisard “improperly procured” the breathalyzer exam. How does this happen? Obviously something crazy went on because the DA already withdrew the drunken driver charge because he knew it would not be admissable.

Even without the DUI charge, there is the fact that he rammed two motorcyclists – killing one.  Anyway, thought this was a strange story and will try to follow it as it wends its way out.

Underage Drinking By The Numbers

Those of you who follow this blog regularly know that I am a tireless supporter for education on underage drinking.  This is especially true this time of year.  If this looks familiar it is.  I figured you might also like to take a look at some of the current figures regarding underage drinking

Teenagers have this ability to believe they are indestructible and the numbers happen to other people, perhaps those not as careful or as smart as they are. 

Cannot Bury Your Head In The Sand

There can be no denying that underage consumption of alcohol is of concern in our country.  According to a recent study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institutes for Health the numbers are not getting any better.

The study showed that almost 15% of eighth graders had consumed alcohol in the past 30 days.  This is especially frightening given that research has proven that the earlier one starts drinking, the more likely they are to have a drinking problem when they get older.

For 10th graders the figure doubles with almost 3 out of every 10 sophomores admitting to having indulged in alcoholic beverages in the past month.  Slightly more than 40% of all high school seniors have imbibed in the past 30 days.

More Alarming Statistics

If the above statistics are somewhat alarming, there are plenty more where that came from.  Almost 25% of all high school students admit to binge drinking in the past month.

Of this group of drinkers 10% admit to having driven while intoxicated in the past month, and almost one in three of this group admit to having been a passenger in a vehicle driven by a drunken driver.

When is it going to stop? The answer of course is probably never. But we must continue to educate teens about the dangers and make sure options are available other than drinking alcohol. There also have to be options for teens who already are drunk – to get them and their passengers home safely.

Underage Drinking at the Prom

Those of you who follow this blog regularly know that I am a tireless supporter for education on underage drinking.  This is especially true this time of year.

Prom night is supposed to be one of the highlights of high school  It certainly was for me.  Unfortunately underage drinking not only ruins this night for many, it ruins their lives.  In an effort to combat underage drinking on this night, schools all over the country are putting on live performances showing the horrific impact of drinking and driving.

In an earlier blog entry I mentioned the school that used the Grim reaper as a prop, going in and selecting random students to come out and play the “victim” of a drunken driving accident.  I have noticed many high schools are using the Grim reaper for this purpose.

Drunken Driving Acted Out

DuPage County High School District in Lombard, Illinois is putting on “Operation Prom” a play about the dangers and effects of drinking  and driving – and the actors are students themselves.  This play includes the drunken students, the fiery car crash, the professional medical personnel and of course – the extremely emotional funeral.

Creative ideas like this and the Grim Reaper can have a profound impact on adolescents, especially when they happen right before the event. 

It may seem like teens will never listen, but that does not mean we should quit trying. The goal should always be 100% safety and zero lives lost. Certainly more alcohol education for teens can help.

Students Against Destructive Driving

This is a dangerous time of year for high school students – especially those who drink alcohol.  Underage drinking is at record levels right now with no signs of slowing down. Most of you have heard of the group MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), but have you heard of SADD?

Guess What SADD Stands For?

The answer of course is Students Against Destructive Driving. SADD is becoming a much more vocal group and its voice is being heard since the message is coming from peers not parents.

Recently SADD reported that more than 70% of all high school students have experimented with alcohol before graduation. They estimate almost 40% have tried it before graduating eighth grade.

Alcohol and Decision Making Do Not Mix

The fact is alcohol affects decision-making skills.  Let’s face it there is no doubt that decisions made by teens can be questionable at best. Add alcohol to the mix and well – this is not mathematics where two negatives make a positive. The effect of alcohol on teen decision-making can be hazardous.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that teen drinking is riddled with bad decisions.  It estimates that 90% of teen alcohol consumption is binge drinking.  90% - that is amazing. What is your experience? My recollection of high school drinking would add credence to that number for sure. Another reason for minor in possession classes, for sure!

Student's Revenge for Being Caught in Possession of Alcohol

School officials in the East Bay recently punished the entire senior class after a "disrespectful" food fight escalated in the cafeteria. A harmless food fight is much safer than a bullet in the eye ... or poison in your coffee. 

A student at Oakland International High School reportedly put dry erase fluid and most likely even bleach in her teacher's morning cup of java.

According to student reports, the teacher took a sip of her morning brew and, not surprisingly, spit it right out.

The student who has not been charged as of yet, was allegedly getting revenge on her teacher who got her into trouble after the student brought alcohol to school.  It all starts with alcohol.  The 17-year-old girl could face a charge of attempted murder.

The teacher, who was not harmed, decided not to press charges, yet school officials, who only learned of the incident a day after it happened, aren't taking this lightly. The district has a long history of violence and the board has decided to implement a get-tough policy.  Said policy has not yet been rolled out. 

Noel Gallo, a member of the Oakland school board, that for too long the district has not properly dealt with students' criminal behavior. Now wouldn't a minor in possession class been a good thing for this student to take?