Where in the world is Larry Slagle?

31 Mar

Somewhere in Orange County, most likely.  And I need to find him so I can share some stories that might inspire his decision to join the fight against drunk driving!

Many organizations combine forces with taxi services across the nation to offer safe-ride programs when certain holidays approach.  The Washington Regional Alcohol Program offered free taxi rides from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. on New Year’s Eve to help keep roads clear of drunken drivers.  A law firm in the bay area, Berg Injury Lawyers, once again sponsored a “Safe and Sober Free Cab Ride Home” program on St. Patrick’s Day for anyone living in the greater San Francisco area.  SoberRide in Austin, Texas, offered free rides (up to a $30 fare) for residents on the 4th of July, a traditionally high-risk period for impaired drivers.  In 2009, the Lev Foundation, a non-profit organization based out of Beverly Hills, offered free $10 taxi cab vouchers in an effort to keep tipsy drivers from getting behind the wheel during the winter holiday season.

These are just a few of the thousands of organizations that have offered such programs to decrease the number of alcohol-related fatalities during a time of holiday-infused celebration.  However, people drive drunk year round, so the majority of these programs don’t apply to all the other DUIs and accidents that occur on a daily basis.

Good news, though.  Cab companies are aware of this and are putting their first foot forward in creating a safe-ride program that will work 365 days a years.  Diamond Cab Company, a Grand Stand taxi company in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is currently proposing extending a holiday free rides program to a full year operation.  The service would allow bartenders to call and arrange a free ride home for any drunk customers. It was so successful during the winter holiday season that funding ran dry quicker than expected.  The mayor of Myrtle Beach, John Rhodes, suggested the company “get bars and liquor stores to participate; anyone selling the beverages should be a part of making it safe.”

It’s time for Orange County Yellow Cab to join the movement.  With all the night life this popular Southern California region has to offer, and the long list of community colleges and universities that draw in crowds of young adults every year, not to mention the beautiful West Coast weather that attracts hoards of tourists each summer, it just seems to make sense.  If you’ve followed my blog, you have a pretty good idea of all the lives that are twisted, shaken, destroyed because of one, single, wrong decision that can so easily be prevented.  A profit can be made and lives can be saved.  So, Larry, what are you waiting for?


A Personal Interview With a “Repeat Offender”

31 Mar

I decided to interview a friend of mine who we’ll call “Eunice” (inside joke).  She happens to be one of the most amazing people I know.  She also happens to be one of the people I know who has gotten 2 DUIs.  Which probably makes her one of the dumbest people I know. Totally joking.  She’s extremely bright which makes it all the more difficult to believe she’s one of “those” people; you know, the ones who drink and drive.  I wanted to try and understand what goes through the mind of someone who does such a thing. Below are the questions I asked and the answers I received.

1)   When was the first time you ever drove drunk?

I was the first to get my license, when I was 16, so I was always the one to drive my friends and I from party to party and everywhere in between.  We used to stash Everclear underneath my seat and would chug it before going into the club.  I didn’t really think much of it at the time, but looking back I can’t believe how naïve I was.

2)   Were you familiar with D.A.R.E. or any other educational programs that focus on driving under the influence?

I went to a private school so we didn’t do any of that.  Even if there were, I don’t think it would have made a difference or changed my decision to drive drunk.

3)   How old were you when you were convicted of your 1st DUI and how did it happen?

This was after I came to Chapman.  I was 19 and I was at a frat party playing beer pong.  When it got broken up, I was on my way to another party when I saw some friends walking with open beer bottles and told them to get in my car so they wouldn’t get caught.  They hopped in and we started driving, but as soon as I turned the corner I saw lights flashing in my rear view mirror.  My heart stopped and all I could think about was how I was going to explain this to my mom.  They made everyone leave so I was alone, and they make me take the field sobriety test.  I thought I did pretty good but then they pulled out the dreaded breathalyzer.  I blew a .12.  Oops.  When they arrested me, I started crying hysterically and begged them not to put handcuffs on me but they said it was procedure.  When I got to the station, they took my photo (I wasn’t smiling) and they put me in a holding cell.  I was then able to call my friend, who we’ll name Joanna, who actually drove my car drunk to come pick me up from the police station!  I don’t remember anything after that.

4)   When you woke up the next morning and realized what you did, how did you feel and what actions did you take?

I was laying in bed and I couldn’t face the morning.  I called my step-sister crying I had no idea how to tell my mom what happened.  I felt like the worst daughter in the world.  When I mustered up the strength to call her, the moment I told her, her voice dropped.  I’ve never felt so ashamed.

5)   Legally, what did you have to do?

I got a lawyer, who cost $5,000.  She went to court for me, and told me that I was going to be charged with a DUI.  I went through 3 months of classes, a year without a license, two MADD classes, and a visit to the coroner’s office.  (And let me tell you, you never want to go there.)

6)   Which part of that was the most effective?

We had to hold a dead fetus that had come from a pregnant mother who had been killed in a drunk driving accident.  I could hardly hold back my tears.  We also had to visit the ICU and see this man who had turned into a vegetable after crashing his motorcycle while under the influence.  The MADD classes were the most emotional for me.  I sat in a room for four hours listening to mothers talk about their children who had been slaughtered by drunk drivers.  The worst part is that they weren’t angry with us.  They didn’t try to make us feel like horrible people, they just wanted to tell their story and make an impact.

7)   I’m glad to hear that you took what you experienced to heart.  However, you continued to drive drunk! What’s up with that?

I definitely have cut down but there are some nights when I drink that I just don’t think straight.  That’s why it’s so important to have people who care around you who will never make that mistake again.  Sometimes when we’re drinking, we can’t think for ourselves.

8)   If you feel so out of control when you drink in that aspect, shouldn’t you cut down on the partying instead?

Yeah, I shouldn’t drink as much when I’m out.  But I like to party and it’s easy to get caught up.  Everyone is out looking for a good time.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, as long as you’re with the right people.

9)   Tell me a little bit about the 2nd time you got pulled over driving under the influence.

I had been drinking back home over the summer (hardly one year after I got my first offense) and was driving some friends home because I was the most sober out of all us.  My friend was giving my directions and told me to turn right, but at the last minute he told me to take a left so I ended up turning left with my right turn signal on.  I got pulled over right in front of the house we were going to.  They patted me down and searched my car for drugs because apparently I had “suspicious” looking people with me.  They breathalyzed me twice; I blew a .13.  They took me to the station and got out at 3:30 am.  I couldn’t bear to go home so I took a cab to my friend’s house where I stayed until the next morning.  When I woke up, it was surreal that I had done this again.  I took a 3-day intensive-inpatient alcohol treatment program.  After paying $10,000 for the best lawyer in the area, I was able to reduce my charges to a “wet and reckless.”  Luckily, neither state found out about the other so I have remained a first offender.

10) So after all that, the humiliation and the letdown not to mention the financial burden, why do you still drive after drinking?  And why did you let yourself get into that situation again after the first one? Didn’t you learn your lesson?

To be honest, after a while you forget how shitty the situation was at the time.  You start to feel normal again and when you’re back in the party scene with keys in hand, you automatically assume responsibility for your friends when you’re the least drunk out of the group.  (I know this really isn’t responsible in any way at all).  You lose track of your limitations and you continue to let up more and more on the limitations you set for yourself until you get another DUI.  As soon as your life starts to feel normal again, you start playing around and feeling invincible the way you once did.  You just don’t think anything seriously bad will ever happen to you.  It’s definitely a vicious cycle.

There it is.  Annoyed with some of those responses?  So am I.  I had hoped this interview would set some things straight but it has only become more mind-boggling for me when I think about why someone would continue driving under the influence after being given a second chance.  Especially someone who excels in every other area of her life (a motivated and otherwise intelligent human being).  I was frustrated to say the least.  A part of me wanted to  slap my friend in the face with a reality check but she had already been given one: her DUI.  And it didn’t seem to do much for her in the long-term.  I suppose some people learn and some people don’t.  For those who don’t (and believe me, there are a lot of them), we need to offer a solution that will provide an incentive for them to stay off the streets because apparently tighter laws, thicker regulation, and tougher consequences just aren’t enough to convince people to think twice.

A Look at the Prevalence of Drunk Driving in My World

31 Mar

My findings in a nutshell are as follows.  About 75% of those surveyed are college students between the ages of 21 to 24.  Nearly 84% of those people drink once or twice a week, and 44% said they never drive under the influence.  However, 35 of the 44 people questioned admitted that they have gotten into the car with a drunk driver before, and only one person said they do not know anyone who has either driven drunk or gotten into the car with someone under the influence.  60% of those surveyed have been or know someone who has been in an alcohol-related accident.  Nearly half of those who admitted to driving drunk before said they have never been caught.  A couple people have been charged with a 1st DUI and a couple have been charged as a repeat offender.  The input I received at the end of the survey gave me a good understanding as to why people think driving drunk is a common occurrence among people our age.  Most would agree that people who are under the influence tend to think they are invincible and capable of making their way home safely.  Others complain that cabs are expensive and public transportation is inconvenient.  This brings me back to my first entry, and the quest to create a system that will solve the problem at hand. The membership program I proposed a few posts ago would be a great alternative to driving drunk.  Like many of you explained, people just don’t think rationally when they are drunk.  And when they’re drunk, their mind is already set on where they want to be.  They want to sleep in their own beds and don’t want to pay a fortune to make it happen.  So we need to find a way to get people home safe and sound.  Cabs can help increase the chances of this becoming a reality with a pre-pay card system.

See the specific results from my survey below:

1. How old are you?

18 – 20                              [5]

21 -24                             [32]

25 – 30                             [5]

31+                                    [1]

2. Male or Female?

Male                              [11]

Female                         [32]

3. What is the highest level of education you intend to complete?

High School Diploma             [2]

Some College                             [8]

Bachelor’s Degree                    [23]

Master’s Degree                        [10]

4.  How often do you drink?

Never                                                                  [0]

Rarely (once every few months)                 [2]

Sometimes (once a month)                          [3]

Once or twice a week                                     [36]

Daily                                                                  [2]

5.  How often do you drive under the influence of alcohol (over the legal limit)?

Never                                       [18]

Very rarely                             [14]

Sometimes                             [5]

On a monthly basis             [1]

Weekly                                    [3]

6.   If you’ve driven under the influence, have you been caught?

Never been caught                                                          [19]

Been pulled over but got away with it                        [4]

Charged with a 1st DUI offense                                  [2]

Charged with a 2nd DUI offense                                [2]

Never driven drunk so this apply to me                     [14]

7.  Have you ever gotten into the car with someone who was under the influence of alcohol?

Yes – all the time                        [3]

Yes – sometimes                         [15]

Yes – once or twice                    [17]

No                                                  [6]

8.  Do you know someone who has driven drunk and/or gotten into the car with a drunk driver?

Yes – more than 20 people                    [17]

Yes – between 10 and 20 people          [13]

Yes – fewer than 10 people                   [10]

No                                                               [1]

9.  Have you or anyone you know been in an accident caused by drunk driving?

Yes – I or someone I know was in an accident but walked away without any scratches    [10]

Yes – I or someone I know has been injured                   [13]

Yes – Someone I know has been killed                              [10]

No                                                                                               [16]

10.  In a short paragraph, please explain to me why you think driving under the influence is so prevalent in today’s society, the primary reason you’ve driven drunk or gotten a ride from someone who has (if it applies), and what you think we as a community can do to prevent it. Feel free to share any stories or additional thoughts. I would love your input!

Lack of judgement and taxis are expensive. Plus, they claim to have ‘no other way of getting home’

3/16/11 2:21AM

Having traveled and studied abroad in Europe, I believe that the accessibility of public transportation or taxis has an effect on the amount of people that drive under the influence compared to the US. I would rather pay for a $100 taxi ride rather than drive drunk or get in the car with someone that is driving drunk, but I know plenty of people that feel the opposite. Many may think they are invincible (because they are drunk) or that they’ll never get caught/hurt.

3/16/11 5:52AM

I think kids today drink and drive because they don’t want to pay for a cab, but being as though I got my DUI when I was 19, I now know that a cab ride is much less expensive/more worth it than: a year without a license, AA meetings, community service hours, dui classes, lawyer fees, plus every other fee…. It caused me a lot of humiliation, but looking back at it now it provided me with an intense life lesson… that if I didn’t straighten my act up, I’d probably kill someone (I had 3 friends in the car with me… what a shitty friend i was) … I’m glad I learned the lesson young, and had a full year without a license (because i was underage, zero tolerance) … I really think the year without a license was a HUGE impact, and I only learned my lesson because it sucked so much. But today, people that get DUI’s over 21 just get a slap on the wrist… they won’t ever learn. The sentence needs to be more intense …

3/21/11 1:45PM

Well we all want to go to the party and we all want to drink…. As long as I dont drive home. That was until my friend flipped a car with me in it. The only way to truly stop young people from doing this is if we had places to crash or free taxis lol

3/23/11 11:40PM

I don’t know about today’s society but I think driving under the influence is prevalent in my life because of the environment I’m in at the moment. As a college student, I’m surrounded by people who binge drink and consequently don’t make smart decisions. I think another reason why people may drive drunk or get rides from drunk drivers is money. Many peoples’ bank accounts are suffering and getting a free ride from a friend is cheaper than taking a cab. Not to mention, getting in a car with a drunk driver probably means you’re drunk too and your decision-making is impaired.

3/29/11 2:49PM

people drive drunk because they are stupid and have poor planning skills. We cannot gauge properly how drunk the driver is sometimes we so get in the car like an idiot when they are driving.

3/29/11 5:12PM

I think people increasingly believe that they are invincible. Perhaps some feel that warnings issued by government and non-profit groups do not apply to them.

3/29/11 10:44PM

so cal public transportation sucks

3/30/11 3:01AM

i think drunk driving is prevalent in our society because so many people under the age of 21 have access to alcohol and therefor drive under the influene and don’t really know their limits. For those who do drive and are of age, i feel maybe people believe they can be a functioning alcoholic, going through their days wasted and or getting obliterated yet still thinking they have had the experience/tolerance to be able to handle themselves. As a community we should raise awareness of drunk driving and its consequences financial and emotional, as well as have more completely random screenings through out the week/weekend in different small and major intersections throughout the country. I have found that the more people are secluded from society the more they tend to drive drunk, being they are the only ones usually on the road and they know the road very well.

3/30/11 11:25AM

I think it’s a simple case of impaired judgement.. you never think you’re as drunk as you really are – therefore you’re unlikely to utilize the resources that are available to you.

3/30/11 12:50AM

I believe here are so many reasons that driving under the influence is so prevalent in today’s society. Some of those reasons being that people people believe they are invincible or they think that they are better drivers that another people, or that they “aren’t that drunk”. Another reason could be that taxis are very expensive and often public transportation isn’t available when bars let out at 2 or 3am. The primary reason I have driven drunk or as a passenger of a drunk driver is because I felt that myself or the other person was capable and it would be safe, or because I wanted to get home and public transportation wasn’t available and I had no money for a taxi. I believe that all universities should be required to implement safe-ride programs 24 hours of the day, and that communities should provide some sort of public or cheaper transportation system at later hours.

3/30/11 1:38PM Because everybody wants to drink, no one wants to get left out of the fun by not drinking. So they’ll drink to have a good time and either claim that they’re ok to drive even if they’ve had a few drinks, because they don’t want to pay for overnight parking/taxi, or because they want to sound cool the next day for having been able to get away with it.

3/30/11 2:09PM

People don’t want to leave there cars in a strange place, don’t want to pay for a cab, want to go home, and are able to think properly… car manufacturers should make built in breathalyzers to start the ignition…. for everyone!

3/31/11 2:29AM

I think people are just too lazy to designate a driver. No one wants to be the DD. It’s just more convenient to take your chances and drive drunk. It’s very dangerous and definitely a problem.

3/31/11 3:07AM

I think a lot of high school kids risk driving drunk to get home in time for curfew etc because there is a lack of open discussion about alcohol and the dangers between kids and parents. It becomes “forbidden” so we want to drink and find ways to sneak around (often dangerously)..

3/31/11 3:10AM

Cost of taxis, not being able to sleep over at what ever location you are drunk at, not feeling comfortable sleeping at the location you are drunk at, wanting to go home before or after your friends want to leave

3/31/11 4:04AM

It is a problem yes. I have gotten rides from drunk drivers when I was drunk and did not find out that they were drinking too much until after. It is always just to get home from a party or bar.

3/31/11 4:24AM

Have more on-campus events so students do not have to drive. Or, increase ad campaigns to gain awareness about the dangers.

3/31/11 5:12AM

The only time I’ve driven drunk was when I was at a party with people I didn’t know. I didn’t want to stay there, and my bed was a 10 minute drive from this party. Somehow I justified driving drunk with the fact that I wasn’t going very far. In reality, that was far enough to have been in a serious accident, or be pulled over by law enforcement. I feel like driving under the influence is less of a problem for our generation though. We make plans to get a ride, or stay somewhere, because that message has always been sent to us.

3/31/11 2:36PM

People believe they are more cautious when driving under the influence since they do not want to get pulled over.

3/31/11 4:12PM

To follow the trend or to set an example? That is the question.

29 Mar

Yes, that second to last photo IS in fact Shia Labeouf’s official mugshot after being arrested for a DUI.  And yes, he IS smiling.  Something wrong with this picture?  Literally.  How obnoxious can one be? And that last snapshot is our beloved (sense my sarcasm) reality TV star from The Hills, Stephanie Pratt.  Didn’t recognize her? Neither did I.

Athletes, actors, artists, models, reality TV stars…whatever they are, some of Hollywood’s most well-known have jumped on the bandwagon and into the booking room.  And it’s here where a real problem presents itself.  Celebrity arrests for drinking and driving receive considerable media attention.  However, do these “newsworthy” events serve as teachable moments or do they influence what young people might consider to be the norm?  Public figures are role models, whether they intend to be or not.  Stories about them pop up everywhere from the newspaper to magazines to blogs to Perez Hilton, for goodness sake.  Unfortunately, a lot of these reporters use their media outlet to focus on the particular celebrity and how their actions affect their personal life, instead of using the opportunity to reinforce why driving under the influence is such a terrible idea.  I came across an article from 2009 that looks into the issue with a pretty clear perspective:

Media Ignores Health Consequences of Drinking and Driving Among Young Celebrities

DUI-related Policies and Societal Interventions Also Overlooked

The recent drinking and driving (DUI) arrests of celebrities—Paris Hilton, Nicole Ritchie, Michelle Rodriguez and Lindsay Lohan—yielded widespread news coverage, however, very little of it offered any public health context, according to a new report by researchers from theJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Injury Research and Policy. Analyzing stories reported by the New York TimesTIMEPeople and the evening news broadcasts from ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and Fox, researchers found that only 4 percent of the reports made any mention of injury or potential injury from the DUI events. In 2005, alcohol-related crashes resulted in 16,885 deaths in the U.S. The results of the study will be published in the May 2009 issue of Alcohol and Alcoholism and is available on the journal’s website in advance of the print publication.

“Media are an important source of information about the consequences of alcohol consumption, and influence how individuals define acceptable behavior,” said Katherine Smith, PhD, lead author of the study and assistant professor with the Bloomberg School’s Center for Injury Research and Policy. “While the celebrity DUI stories raised awareness of the issue of drinking and driving among young people, an opportunity to educate this audience on solutions to prevent DUI was missed.” Previous research has demonstrated that medical-related celebrity news, such as reports of breast cancer, can motive the public to seek cancer screening services like mammography.

Smith, along with colleagues Denise Twum and Andrea Gielen, conducted a qualitative analysis of 150 print and 16 television news stories using a coding framework to capture main elements of relevant story content, e.g., placement of any mention of the DUI incident, mention of contributing factors or consequences of DUI, as well as any public health messages. The most frequently occurring topics found in the study sample were arrest, sentencing and going to/release from jail. Less than half of the stories focused on the legal aspects of the DUI event. Few articles included any consideration of any DUI-related policy or possible societal intervention, and discussions of the consequences of the DUI were almost entirely limited to discussions of the legal and professional repercussions for the celebrity herself, such as losing movie or television roles. Examining who is most often called upon to offer comment, researchers found that those involved in the justice process (police, district attorney, judge) were frequently quoted, whereas no story included quotes from public health stakeholders or DUI advocacy groups. Only one story suggested the possibility of a designated driver.
“This is really a missed opportunity. The fact that reported rates of driving impaired are higher among young adult drinkers and that drinking and driving in this age group is increasing suggests we need to be taking advantage of every opportunity we have to change behaviors and perceptions among this audience,” said Gielen, ScD, a co-author of the study and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy. “Unfortunately, when media cover paltry legal consequences for the celebrities alongside routine use of their glamorous photos, we are likely doing a disservice to young people. We need to be getting the message to young people that drinking and driving is a serious issue with substantial legal and life-threatening consequences.”

The research was funded by grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy.

(Source: Johns Hopkins Public Health News Center)

It really is a shame that so many public figures can’t seem to keep it together.  As someone who is constantly in the spotlight, you’d think they would put a little more effort into protecting their image and maintaining a level of respect in the community.  Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.  And fans who know better are constantly being let down by their actions.  We need someone who can set an example.  We can no longer rely on Hollywood’s clan of hot shots to do it for us.

“But who?” you might ask.  What about you?

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Cliche, perhaps, but a valid statement nonetheless.

As college students, we have the ability to inspire teens and adolescents to make healthy choices and to excel in all aspects of life.  Believe it or not, we are role models too.  Whether you are a tutor, your little brother’s little league coach, a dance teacher, or just someone who plays with your nieces and nephews during the holidays, you have a lot of influence on how these kids see the world.  Give them someone they can depend on and look up to face-to-face.  Forget the magazines and television.  By actively participating in their daily, weekly, monthly routines, you can help bind them to the real world and all that it can offer if you strive to be the best you can be.

Don’t drive drunk. Don’t get in the car with someone who is intending on driving drunk.

Can you imagine how devastated that little one would be, with big hot tears welling up in his baby blue eyes, when he finds out his hunky basketball-playing wii-boxing superman of a brother who knows best was killed in an alcohol-related car accident?  It would be absolutely tragic.  Luckily, you won’t be there to witness the whirlpool of hysteria that follows because you’ll be dead.  Lucky might not be the right word.  But you get the idea.

I hate reflecting on all the times I’ve gotten into the car with a drunk driver (and believe me, it’s been far too often).  Sometimes I wonder what it would be like for a police officer to show up to my front door and try to explain sympathetically in carefully chosen words to my parents how I had been in the car with someone with a .18 BAC and was killed instantly upon impact, my bones crushed between chunks of metal.  I can’t even project onto this blog all the thoughts that would probably run through their minds.  They  would probably blame themselves.  Where did they go wrong?

That fact of the matter is that they didn’t.  Because I know better.  So why the hell has it happened so many times?  I have trouble answering this question myself.  So I took it to the streets (survey monkey, to be specific) and asked you guys instead.  See my next post for the results.

In the News Today

28 Mar

I read an article a few days ago regarding a controversy that I think all of us, as phone-savvy college students, can engage in.  I’ve noticed that nearly everyone in our class has either an iPhone or a Blackberry (findings courtesy of Cory and his no-phone-in-possession policy).  If you own a smart phone, you are probably familiar with all the different apps you can download.  I have about 30, including Groupon, Facebook, Twitter, Words With Friends, Shazam, etc.  All of which make life much more convenient for me in their own way.  However, there are a couple of recently developed apps that have really pushed the law’s buttons.  Watch the video or read the article below:

Senators Ask Apple to Pull Checkpoint-Dodging Apps

Smartphone applications that share information about police D.U.I. checkpoints and speed traps may be a boon for drivers hoping to avoid tickets (or worse), but a group of U.S. senators says they’re nothing but a public safety hazard.

In fact, they think the apps are so dangerous that in a letter to Apple, Research In Motion, which makes BlackBerrys, and Google today, Senators Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) urged the companies to remove the applications that they say help drunk drivers evade police.

“We know that your companies share our desire to end the scourge of drunk driving and we therefore would ask you to remove these applications from your store unless they are altered to remove the DUI/DWI checkpoint functionality,” the letter says.

In the Apple App Store, applications like PhantomAlert, Trapster, iRadar and others claim to help drivers avoid speed traps, police checkpoints and other traffic stops by crowdsourcing the reports of other drivers and disseminating police warnings.

Considering that more than 10,000 Americans die in drunk-driving crashes every year, with one drunk-driving related death every 50 minutes, the senators say that it’s a matter of “grave concern” to them that smartphone customers can download the D.U.I.-checkpoint-dodging applications so easily.

In the letter, they cite a recent USA Today article in which a police captain says the popular checkpoint alert apps are troubling.

“If people are going to use those, what other purpose are they going to use them for except to drink and drive?” Capt. Paul Starks of the Montgomery County Police Department told the paper. “They’re only thinking of one consequence, and that’s being arrested. They’re not thinking of ending the lives of other motorists, pedestrians, other passengers in their cars or themselves.”

But Joe Scott, CEO and founder of PhantomAlert, a Harrisburg, Pa., company that makes a popular checkpoint alert app for all kinds of smartphones, said he thought the senators’ letter was a “knee-jerk reaction.”

“If they really understood what we are doing and aim to achieve, they would actually support us,” he said.

“We’re doing exactly what the police departments are doing — putting up PSAs and letting people know there are checkpoints — to deter people from drinking and driving,” Scott said, adding that the only real difference is that his app shares the information in real-time.

A driver who may have been drinking could look at all the D.U.I. checkpoints highlighted on PhantomAlert’s map and decide to take a cab or catch a ride with a friend, he said.

Apple, Research in Motion and Google did not immediately respond to requests from comment from ABCNews.com.

Source: ABC News


Apps like Trapster, Fuzz Alert, and Phantom Alert give drivers a heads up when police may be lurking nearby.  Some argue that the apps only serve the same purpose as radar detectors, which people have been able to buy for years.  Others fear that these apps will encourage drivers’ unsafe behavior if they are given that sense of security by knowing all the areas they should avoid while breaking the law.  I understand the motive behind dodging a painfully expensive speeding ticket.  But a DUI checkpoint is a whole different ballgame.  Yes, they’re annoying.  But I think they’re a small price to pay to ensure our safety on the road after a night out.  People looking to avoid checkpoints are likely drunk, putting not only their own but everyone else’s lives in their tracks on their newly designed route home in grave danger.  Legally, the information provided by these apps is protected under the First Amendment.  “The process of telling citizens about government activity is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The fact that it’s being performed by an app that passes along reports from citizens to other citizens is entirely beside the point….The bottom line is that this group of four senators is trying to compel limitations on protected speech.”  This is a valid point.  However, could it be that lawmakers are genuinely just looking out for the best interest of the public?  Is the risk involved with the usefulness of these apps worth it?  What do you think?

Raising Awareness in the Media

28 Mar

As a PR/Ad major, I thought it would be appropriate to dedicate this post to some of the advertising, nonprofits, and government programs out there that work around the clock to generate public awareness in a combined effort to reduce alcohol-related accidents and fatalities.  April is regarded as National Alcohol Awareness Month every year; that’s just a few days from now!  So spread the word!  National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month is December.  In my opinion, we should be exercising awareness and prevention every hour of every day of every month.

Some data I found while researching the topic:

Television ads for alcohol products outnumbered “responsibility” messages by 32 to one.  From 2001 to 2003, the industry spent $2.5 billion on television product advertising, and only $27 million on “responsibility” programs.

The number of distilled spirits ads on cable networks grew 5,687% between 2001 and 2004, from 645 to 37,328. Distilled spirits spending on cable network advertising grew 3,392%, from $1.5 million to $53.6 million in that period. The number of cable network alcohol ads that exceeded the industry’s 30% underage audience threshold nearly doubled to 18,027 in 2004, up from 9,235 in 2001.


On a lighter note, in 2010, the U.S. Government spent $13 million for just one advertising campaign to publicize increased enforcement through the Labor Day weekend.  Other non-profits and programs have also been shelling out big bucks for the cause.  The efforts against drunk driving are growing in every way, shape, and form.  During recent years, the California Highway Patrol has been successful in reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by drivers under the influence through enforcement and extensive education and public awareness programs.

“‘Sober Graduation’ is both a title and an objective. This program was established by the Department in 1985 and has been recognized internationally as an effective anti-DUI program targeting high school seniors and raising their awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving. Each year Division and Area Public Affairs Officers assist participating schools by attending rallies and fund-raisers to disseminate promotional materials with anti-DUI messages. Public Service Announcements (PSAs) showing the consequences of drinking and driving are provided to CHP public affairs officers for presentation at school rallies. In addition, many public affairs programs feature accident scene reenactments that offer a strong message to students about the very serious consequences of drinking and driving.

The Department’s dedication to reducing DUI-related traffic accidents is also shown in its support of the Designated Driver program. Designated Driver is designed not only to educate the public about the dangers of drinking and driving, but also to encourage and reward those who choose not to drink in order to safely drive others home. The Department and allied agencies work together with community organizations to distribute promotional materials such as posters, window stickers, key chains, water bottles, T-shirts, and glasses that feature the designated driver program. Special items such as polo shirts, and drinking glasses have also been presented to participating bars and restaurants. The Department has also provided ‘Designated Driver’ Public Service Announcements for broadcast on local radio and television stations.”

Innovative, clever, and attention-grasping ads are always popping up throughout our communities, whether it be through a gruesome PSA or a trippy optical illusion on a billboard.  Even some of the world’s largest alcohol manufacturers have shown their support for the movement.  Take a look:

A smart one where the company printed a graphic on the crown of their bottles. On opening the crown, the graphic of the car appears to be distorted and on the reverse of the crown you have “Don’t Drink and Drive message”.

Specially designed Guinness cans created a “double vision” sensation and were distributed as a part of an “enjoy responsibly” campaign.

A Heineken ad that reads, “when you drink your reaction time slows down.  Don’t drink and drive.”  Pretty straight forward.  The one below is humorous but definitely gets its point across.

Here are some of my favorites I came across while doing research.  The outdoor advertising is most effective in my opinion.  The one below is incredibly creative; a restaurant attached printed wheels to the regular chairs with the message “Don’t drink and drive this festive season.”  It was a beautiful and clever graphic representation of how quickly life can change if one gets behind the wheel after drinking.

The “bleeding” coasters above were an interesting concept….the dye from the coaster turns red as it gets wet from the beer glass.

Which ad do you like most and why?

A Personal Update

27 Mar

Okay, I’m apparently a very forgetful person when I’m drinking.  I forgot to finish the assignment I gave myself on Thursday after getting to the bar.  I have absolutely no idea what happened to my second attempt on Friday as the sheet went missing altogether.  Saturday was a success.  Here’s what I came up with:

Ha.  There you have it folks.  I’m embarrassed.

I have an update on my boyfriend’s situation:  It has been about 7 weeks since his DUI, and he is still waiting for his next court date.  He has not been convicted of any DUI charges as of yet, but he’s started taking the required classes which are from 7-9 P.M. every other Tuesday.  He rides his bike most places but is lucky to have people like me and his roommate to get rides to and from work.  A part of me feels like I should let him suffer.  Another part of me hates to see him suffer because I love and care about him.  What to do?

Either way, I’m nervous about what’s to come.  I looked up some of the consequences of a 2nd DUI offense and this is what I found….

First California DUI Offense

1st Drunk Driving Conviction

  • Jail: From 96 Hours to 6 Months
  • Fine: From $1,000 to $1,600
  • License Suspension: 6 Months
  • Must Complete a Driving Under the Influence Program
  • May Be Ordered to Install Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
  • California SR22 Insurance Required for Restricted License

Second California DUI Offense

2nd Drunk Driving Conviction (Within 10 Years of Previous)

  • Jail: 90 Days to 1 Year
  • Fine – From $1,000 to $1,900
  • License Suspension: 2 Years
  • May Apply for Restricted Driver License (IID Required)
  • Must Complete a Driving Under the Influence Program
  • California SR22 Certificate Required for Restricted License

Third California DUI Offense

3rd Drunk Driving Conviction (Within 10 Years of Previous)

  • Jail: 120 Days to 1 Year
  • Fine – From $1,000 to $2,000
  • License Suspension: 3 Years
  • You Receive a Designation as a Habitual Offender (This is not a good thing)
  • May Apply for Restricted Driver License after 1 Year
  • Ignition Interlock Device Required
  • Must Complete a Driving Under the Influence Program
  • California SR22 Certificate Required for Restricted License

Fourth DUI Offense in California

4th Drunk Driving Conviction(Within 10 Years of Previous)

  • Jail or Prison: 180 Days to 1 Year
  • Fine – From $1,000 to $3,000
  • License Suspension: 4 Years
  • May Apply for Restricted Driver License after 1 Year
  • Ignition Interlock Required
  • Must Complete a Driving Under the Influence Program
  • California SR22 Certificate Required for Restricted License

He could serve jail time anywhere from 90 days to a year!  My teddy bear of a boyfriend doesn’t belong in jail.  Without a license, he is no threat to society.  But this is a real possibility.  Several friends who have gotten 2nd DUI offenses have had to serve out their sentences over the weekends (go in on Friday and out on Sunday).  Needless to say, he’s terrified but staying optimistic.  I tell him to hope for the best but expect the worst.  We are still waiting for his court date to arrive in the mail.  The state seems to be taking its time, and I’m tired of waiting for this whole penalty ordeal to officially begin.  The stress definitely takes a toll on both of us.

My boyfriend says he felt sober when he drove home (then again, don’t they all).  He passed the field sobriety test, but still blew a .13.  Take a glance at the chart and see how much it takes for you to go over the legal limit.