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December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

Author: Justin Mckibben

Tis’ the season for a lot of holiday celebrations. This time of year is always full of family, fun and fellowship, with the year 2016 coming to a close only days away. Considering so many parts of the country a plagued with harsh weather during winter, and so many people are out celebrating, it only makes sense that extra attention be brought to the need for safe traveling. The importance of which is definitely emphasized in the movement against drunk and drugged driving. While most of us know December as a holiday season for many reasons, it is also National Impaired Driving Prevention Month!

From the White House

Back in 2012 President Barrack Obama made a statement announcing National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, stating:

“As Americans gather with friends and family to share in the holiday season, National Impaired Driving Prevention Month reminds us of the importance of celebrating safely. Every year, accidents involving drunk, drugged, or distracted driving claim thousands of lives, leaving families to face the heartbreak of losing a loved one. We stand with all those who have known the tragic consequences of drugged or drunk driving, and we rededicate ourselves to preventing it this December and throughout the year.”

In these efforts the President and his administration invite families, educators, health care providers, and community leaders to promote responsible decision-making, and also to inspire young people to live free of drugs and alcohol. In the description of impaired driving the movement is not limited to alcohol. It includes:

  • Distracted driving, such as driving tired or while texting
  • Drugged driving
  • Drunk driving

Understanding the Impact

This observation in so important, and several agencies encourage people to recognize and understand the impact, including:

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • U.S. Department of Transportation,
  • The White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

To put the importance of National Impaired Driving Prevention Month into perspective, in an average year:

  • 30 million Americans drive drunk
  • 10 million Americans drive impaired by illicit drugs

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) conducted a study in 2010, which showed:

  • 2% of people aged 16 or older drove under the influence of alcohol
  • 3% drove under the influence of illicit drugs
  • 8% of drunk drivers were 26 and older
  • 5% of drunk drivers were 16 to 25 years old
  • 8% of the older group drove drugged
  • 4% of younger drivers drove under the influence of drugs

Again, the month of December makes plenty of sense for the National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, considering traffic fatalities involving impaired drivers increase significantly during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday periods. In fact, in December of 2010:

  • 25 people on average were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes per day!
  • Drivers 21 to 34 years old were alcohol impaired and involved in fatal crashes at a higher percentage than any other age group

Do Your Part this December

This National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, we have to keep in mind we should be doing our best to take care of each other. Spread good will and compassion to others with December. People are encouraged to always drive responsibly, and to be observant of each other on the roads. While reporting an impaired driver might not be the holiday present they want, but it could save their life and the lives of others. If you have a friend or relative who is impaired, don’t let them get behind the wheel.

Many people who struggle with alcohol or drug use disorders don’t even realize the severity of their problem until it is too late. Frequently driving impaired is often a warning sign of a deeper issue. Anyone who finds themselves driving impaired too often may want to seek help.

Sadly, fatal accidents happen across the country every year, claiming thousands of innocent lives as a result of impaired driving. Driving drugged, drunk or distracted is critically dangerous, and always avoidable. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Crazy News Stories: Cats and Alcohol

Crazy News Stories

Author: Justin Mckibben

YES! We are back at it again!

We realized it has been such a long time since we delivered those crazy news stories you love to read and that we can’t help but love writing. People are crazy… like reeeeally crazy, so there is no shortage out there of crazy articles to talk about. With so much dramatic, disturbing and tragic events going on in the news today, we want to give some relief with a funny perspective.

So sit back and brace yourself for the return of CRAZY NEWS STORIES!

Cat Saves Alcoholic Owner

I honestly had no idea that the Cats Protection’s National Cat Award 2016 was even a thing. Like, since when did the country nominate a cat to be honored with such an exclusive and prestigious title?

Who votes on this?

Do the cats use super delegates too?!

Anyway, this year the New Romney feline Frank was made a finalist for the “better together” category that celebrates the bong between pet and owner.

The 4 year old cat lives with his owner, Robin Barry, in Dymchurch Road. According to Barry, his wife decided to get the kitten when he was in rehab to help comfort him. He admitted that while he is usually a dog person, Frank was able to melt his heart.

“He became my number one supporter, following me about and being a constant companion. I was on a lot of medication and was very vulnerable and lost but Frank never left my side. With his support, I came through the other side.”

Barry said that Frank saved his life, and that he feels lucky to have such an amazing cat with him. If Frank wins his category, he will also be in with a chance of being crowned National Cat of the Year!

I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely voting for Frank… if I can even vote… not sure how this works. But Frank is a hero!

Finally… Wine for Your Cats

Remember all those times you sat down for a romantic dinner… with your cat… wishing the poor fluffy thing could enjoy a glass of wine with you?

Yea… I didn’t think so… but maybe…

Sadly, alcohol is extremely dangerous for pets. Kind of like it’s extremely dangerous for alcoholics like myself. But apparently there is no a solution for your fuzzy friend!

Apollo Peak is a company out of Denver that now produces drinks for cats that look like wine, but without all the stuff that turns a guy like me into a total buzz-kill. The “wine” is made with organic catnip, water and organic beet juices to give them color.

A similar product actually existed before, but it was only available in Japan and was made with grapes, which can be toxic to cats. This new product, according to the product’s founder Brandon Zavala, is approved by local veterinarians and went into production for commercial use back in November.

So now your cat can make a toast to catching that ever illusive red dot, even if you can’t drink with them.

Bribed with a Beer

Lastly comes a hilarious story of one drunk driver who obviously doesn’t understand how DUIs work.

One man in Marietta, Georgia was pulled over by police who were working on the scene of an accident after he drove past orange cones set up at the intersection where the accident had occurred.

When asked if he had been drinking, the suspect insisted he had drank over 13 hours prior to the incident. However officers chose to administer a field sobriety test. During the walking portion of the sobriety test, the suspect refuses to take the steps and so the officers move in to arrest him.

And then… he had a stroke of utter genius!

The suspect tries to resist the arrest. Once officers have him in custody, they find he has multiple DUIs on his record. The suspect then refuses the breathalyzer test, and from here his cunning instincts only improve.

In an attempt to negotiate, he tells the officers he has $300, but only offers $200 for his bribe. When the officer refuses, he says he has beer and offers to throw that in.

Ya know, because nothing goes better with preventing drunk driving and field sobriety tests than a strong drink! At this point, he goes all in and offers all the money in his pocket (now $400) along with his cargo, but the officers don’t take him up on his gracious offer.

Because DUH!

Be it drunken bargaining with the absolute wrong person, or just cats saving lives, crazy news stories always give us a chance to be grateful for the crazy stories we have, and the ones we had nothing to do with! If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Bathroom Mirror Talks to Drinkers about Drunk Driving

Bathroom Mirror Talks to Drinkers about Drunk Driving

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

It’s about time someone said it to your face. Yes… you read that title right…

Drunk driving is tragically irresponsible and has a habit of causing irreparable damage to not only the drunk driver, but also to the innocent individuals who lose their lives to drunk driving accidents in America. Every year an astonishing number of people are killed in drunk driving accidents, and community leaders and organizations all over the nation have used shocking, innovative and informative strategies to change these statistics. One bar in Los Angeles, California has done something pretty amazing to raise awareness, delivering very direct doses of reality and consequence to patrons through a live video in the bathroom mirror.

Mirror, Mirror at the Bar

This powerful campaign was quite literally an “in your face” tactic for raising awareness about the dangers of drunk driving in the Los Angeles bar. A video of the campaign is currently also circulating the internet, and once I stumbled upon it I was very impressed by how they used this unique technique to reach out to people in real time… people who may or may not have been exactly the person who needed to hear it that night.

In the video of the campaign you watch several male patrons enter a restroom. After supposedly “handling their business” the men walk up to the sink to wash their hands, and suddenly the mirror flashes to the image of a man dressed in jail-house blues staring them in the face. Then once he starts talking to them and interacting, they realize this is LIVE, not just a pre-recorded commercial.

Of course a few of them are a little freaked out… I mean, you would have to wonder how long this guy has been watching you from some hidden camera… but once the conversation gets going the real motive comes out pretty quick, and it can be pretty intense.

Inmate Kris Caudilla 

The live video stream is of Kris Caudilla, an inmate in prison who has been convicted of drunk driving and is currently serving 15 years. Caudilla asks one man what he is drinking, some he asks how their night is going… then drops some real-time-live-action TRUTH on them, sharing his story of being out one night having drinks with friends, then deciding to drive drunk he was in an accident and killed someone.

That someone was a police officer- 44 year old Deputy James Anderson Jr. Caudilla drove head-on into Anderson’s patrol car with a blood-alcohol level of 0.158. The office later died at Shands Jacksonville hospital in Florida. Caudilla plead guilty to DUI manslaughter and testified in court, taking full-responsibility for Anerdson’s death. Caudilla was 27 at the time of the accident.

In the mirror Caudilla speaks his truth to men drinking at a bar on the other side of the country; men that stand in paralyzed shock holding cocktails and glasses of beer as another man trapped by his decision tells them with conviction,

“He had 4 children, a wife and I took him away from them…

I made the choice to drink. I made the choice to get in the car. You don’t have to make that choice…

So take a good look in the mirror man. Should you be driving tonight?”

In the video you can see the look on their faces, and you can tell some are second guessing a lot in these few passing moments. To watch this video, click HERE.

Reflection From Inside Campaign

This video is part of the Reflection From Inside campaign that has been put together by We Save Lives as part of a progressive effort to:

  • Educate people
  • Hold drivers accountable
  • Support victims’ rights
  • Help others find the courage to intervene

We Save Lives (WSL) is an international coalition that works to help protect the public by preventing crashes and crimes from “the 3 Ds” which are:

  1. Drunk driving
  2. Drugged driving
  3. Distracted driving

We Save Lives works through legislative efforts and grassroots organizing at the national, state, and local levels to make a difference on the road.

While many would say this is a “major buzz-kill”, and plenty have if you find the video on Facebook and read through some of the more less-sensitive comments, the fact is this is a powerful and profound way to try and pull the attention to something that is incredibly important.

So what if it “kills your buzz” for a little bit… it is better than doing nothing and letting you get behind the wheel and kill another human being. Even if not everyone listens, it might make a huge difference to the person who does.

I feel like this campaign is an amazing and creative way to try and interrupt the thought process to introduce the dangers of drunk driving to the people that need it most… people who are drunk and possibly going to drive! Every opportunity we have to make a statement and raise awareness in a new way gives us the chance to change something. Grabbing someone’s attention at a pivotal moment like that could be the difference between life and death. I applaud the creators and participants in this campaign, and I hope more people take this warning to get home safe.

Fatal drunk driving accidents occur all across the country, claiming thousands of innocent lives, all because of those who get drunk and get behind the wheel. Saving lives could be as easy as stopping yourself from driving drunk, and if you have a habit of drunk (drugged) driving perhaps it is time to consider how getting help could save your life, and others. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Ethan “Affluenza Defense” Couch Sentenced to 2 Years

Ethan “Affluenza Defense” Couch Sentenced to 2 Years

Author: Justin Mckibben

On a few separate occasions we have touch on the ridiculous story of Ethan Couch, the 19-year-old teen who drove drunk back in June of 2013 and caused an accident that killed 4 people, and his infamous Affluenza Defense presented by his attorneys. Couch’s drunk-driving case sparked national outrage after his affluenza defense was actually successful in his initial court case, and the spectacle made some serious headlines.

Wednesday the country was in a new uproar as Ethan “Affluenza Defense” Couch was ordered by a judge to spend the next two years in a county jail for violating the terms of his probation.

4 Terms of Imprisonment

Early news reports explained that State District Judge Wayne Salvant imposed four consecutive 180-day jail terms on Couch for his probation violations; one term for each of the four people who lost their lives when Couch recklessly drove drunk years ago and “almost” got away with it.

Although, even though he was a minor (16 years old at the time of the accident) a lot of people felt like he had pretty much got away with killing four people after he was originally only sentenced to 10 years’ probation. He was also sent to an isolated home near Newport Beach, CA for intensive therapy, which people felt even more upset about because his punishment seemed more like a vacation.

Breanna Mitchell, Brian Jennings, and Holly and Shelby Boyles were all run down by the teen that was discovered to have Valium and a high level of alcohol in his blood. The prosecutors trying to charge the teen with the deaths wanted the boy to be sentenced to 20 years in prison, but he received 10 years of probation with the affluenza defense.

What is the “Affluenza Defense?”

The term “affluenza” was made popular in the late 1990s by Jessie O’Neill who wrote the book “The Golden Ghetto: The Psychology of Affluence.”

Since giving life to the word, it has been used to describe a condition in which children (typically from richer families) grow up with a sense of privilege that makes them experience other hindrances such as:

  • Being irresponsible
  • Making justifications for poor behavior
  • Experiment in drugs and alcohol

Just reading this makes me outraged! It is absolutely astonishing and downright offensive that the affluenza defense even exists!

Basically, to my understanding, this is saying that Ethan Couch should be let off the hook because he has been so predisposed to getting his way and being over-privileged that he just didn’t know any better and has a tough time understanding why the rules apply to him…

Awwwwe, the poor little guy!

I want to see a case where a kid from a place like where I grew up is acquitted of murdering four people with a vehicle because of the “Section 8 Defense”- because he is so poor and ill-equipped to live. We make excuses and let the rich kid get away with multiple homicides because he was too rich NOT to try drugs, but the kids who grow up in drug-dealing neighborhoods should be held to higher standards?

Don’t get me wrong- he was only 13 and should not spend the rest of his life in prison for something he can’t comprehend, but if we are going to start argue in his defense it should not be on the grounds that he’s just too spoiled and we have to let it slide.

Couch squandered his opportunity to avoid jail time and his probation was violated after a video of him playing an underage game of beer-pong surfaced online last December. Judge Salvant gave Couch’s diabolical defense team two weeks to gather evidence for a possible reconsideration of his sentence, and he told Couch outright,

“You’re not getting out of jail today.”

This recent appearance marked the first time Ethan Couch was in an adult court since his case was transferred out of the juvenile system after he turned 19 earlier this week.

While the affluenza defense may be a pretty good indication Ethan Couch could use some treatment and therapy, most people still feel like some real-life repercussions for his completely unconscionable and ultimately lethal actions should be imposed. Some are just content to see him serving any time for what he has done. Two years may not do justice to the deaths of four innocent people, but it’s a start and maybe it will teach Couch something.

Sometimes it takes something terrible to happen before people will make the choice that changes everything, but it doesn’t have to be like that. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.

Should Motorists Be Able to Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

Should Motorists Be Able to Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

If you have ever been accused of driving under the influence by a police officer, you may have been faced with the choice of whether or not you should take a breathalyzer test.  Many addicts who suffer from alcoholism or other drug addictions may have made the unfortunate mistake of driving under the influence. However, refusing a breathalyzer test can lead to harsh consequences like suspension of your driver’s license and even jail time.

In Florida, if you are pulled over for a DUI and are asked to give a breath, urine, or blood test and refuse, you are immediately subject to a year license suspension. Florida’s “implied consent” law states that if an officer has probable reason to believe that you have been driving under the influence, then you must consent for a test to determine your state. If you are asked to do more than one test, you must abide or face penalties.

Did you know you can be arrested for a DUI even if your vehicle is not in motion? If you are shown to have any physical control of the vehicle while under the influence, the potential to drive is enough for a Florida court to say you were in control of the vehicle.  Any refusal of a test can result in arrest. In Florida, the first time you refuse a test, you lose your license for one year. Any subsequent refusal will result in 18 month suspensions and penalties such as jail time and a misdemeanor.

Should You Refuse to Take a Mandatory DUI Test?

In most states, you have the option of refusing a DUI test however there are still consequences. The penalties for refusal are milder than those for a DUI but you can still go to jail if you refuse to take the test more than once.

Now, a landmark case will decide whether a driver should have the choice at all. The U.S Supreme Court will make a decision soon on whether or not motorist can be charged with a crime if they refuse to take a breathalyzer test on suspicion of drunk driving.

Two individual cases out of Minnesota and North Dakota involved motorist being charged with a crime after refusing to take a breathalyzer test. These two cases come from two out of the 13 states that have made it illegal to refuse a blood alcohol tests. Now, four other states are considering adopting similar laws including California and Missouri.

In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that police needed a warrant in order to conduct blood tests for drunk driving. It was argued that “the federal constitutional rights of all of these people are being infringed.”

The 24/7 Sobriety Act: Friend or Foe?

In Montana, a DUI-related program was debated in the Supreme Court on whether or not it was constitutional. The 24/7 Sobriety Act began in 2012 and exists in dozen of counties throughout the state. The act forces repeat DUI offenders to take twice-daily breath tests and cover the expense out of pocket. The tests can be pricey. It costs —$2 for a breath test and $10 for a drug screen or wearing an ankle bracelet for the day. Missing tests results in a warrant for their arrest and flunking means automatic jail time.

The 24/7 Sobriety Act was brought to the Supreme Court and they ruled in July that the Act was not unconstitutional however the way the act was conducted was. For example, Robert E. Spady was a Lincoln County resident who was arrested for a DUI and careless driving in 2013.  Spady missed three of his required twice-daily alcohol tests and was charged with three misdemeanor counts of criminal contempt.

Spady’s attorney argued that the program was unconstitutional because requiring participants to pay 2 dollars per test was excessive. The program also was prior to the defendant being convicted which was deemed to be unjust. The law that allowed for the creation of 24/7 is vague and equates to an unlawful search and seizure.

On the other side of the argument was the Montana Attorney General’s Office who said that the program was an ideal way to combat Montana’s severe problem with drinking and driving.  He argued that the fees were reasonable to protect the roads from repeat DUI offenders. Therefore, the fees were in place to recoup the cost of the program.

This was obviously a heated decision with multiple viewpoints to consider but ultimately, the Supreme Court voted that the program was not unconstitutional but the way it was conducted was. Now the 24/7 Sobriety Act will be modified to meet specific guidelines.

Do you think the decision was handled the right way? Hopefully, these modifications will be for the better. Driving under the influence is dangerous not just for you, but for those on the road. Be smart out there and monitor your drinking behavior. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Author: Shernide Delva

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