Sports and DUI: Add the Golf Cart to the List

It seems that every day another sports figure is slapped with a DUI. The connection between alcohol and major sports has been reported on, if not studied well, for years.

Usually, though, it’s football, baseball, or basketball. High-profile televised ball sports seem to breed players who need to test their mettle by driving drunk, risking lives and careers.

no-golf-cart-drinkingLast Saturday golf got added to that list of infamous sports. And the vehicle was not a Corvette owned by an overpaid player, but a golf cart whose driver had been assigned to ferry golf analyst Roger Maltbie around the green in Pinehurst, North Carolina. Reports state that the driver refused to heed the order of a North Carolina state trooper to stop, and he then proceeded to run over the trooper’s foot.

The policeman leaped onto the cart and arrested the driver, who has been charged with what is probably the largest assortment of crimes ever associated with a golf cart: assault on a law enforcement officer, hit and run, driving while impaired and resisting, obstructing and delaying a law enforcement officer.

Let’s hope this is not a trend. It is depressing enough to read about NFL players who have DUI convictions. What’s next? Bowling?

There are two lessons that the driver of the golf cart can take away from the incident. The first, shouted by the arresting officer, is, “When a state trooper tells you to stop, THAT’S what you’re supposed to do!”

The second is: don’t drink and drive. How many times do we have to say it?

Could one question have
saved two lives in Florida?

Every day 28 people die because of drunk driving. Some are just victims – people in the wrong place in the wrong time. Others are the ones who make the reckless decision – they drink, and then get behind the wheel, heedless of the consequences.

28-people-die-from-drunk-driving-every-dayBut others’ decisions can have an impact, even when a driver clearly decides to drive while drunk. In Coral Springs, Florida, a woman named Kayla Mendoza was involved in a fatal accident last November after downing two margaritas containing a total of six shots of tequila. Reports say she was going well over 80 in the wrong direction on the Sawgrass Expressway when she crashed into another car, killing two young women. Kayla Mendoza has been charged with DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide. Her boss, Marcelo Bruzzo, was in the car with her.

Apparently it was Kayla’s decision to drink and drive, and her boss’s decision not to prevent her. But does that mean the crash was inevitable?

One question could have prevented two drunk driving deaths.margarita

Before the crash Mendoza and Bruzzo had been at a restaurant where they downed the drinks that clouded their judgment. Had the waiter asked, “May I see your driver’s license?” then the margaritas would not have been served, and perhaps the two victims would be alive today. Because Kayla Mendoza was 20 years old, below the legal drinking age.

If there’s a moral in this sad story, it’s that all of us have a responsibility to prevent drunk driving: friends, spouses, family, bystanders, hosts, and yes, waiters. When people are too impaired to take responsibility for their lives, we need to take it for them.

To repeat: every day 28 people die because of drunk driving. It’s hard to know how many could have been saved by the quick action of others on that November day, but we do know this:

But for one question, it could have been 26.

Four Ways to Get a DUI – Without A Car

From the blog of Orange County DUI lawyer Virginia Landry, a report of some cases in which Driving Under the Influence did not involve a car. It’s rare, but there are a lot of vehicles you should not be handling when you’ve been drinking. Most of them are not as deadly as a car, but obviously a law enforcement officer thought there was enough cause for arrest here. Don’t let this happen to you.

A Man Gets a DUI on a Tricycle

Go here to read Landry’s report.

Celebrities Should Not Glorify Drunk Driving

A hat tip to Fox News411 and Hollie McKay for a good piece on the damage that celebrities do when they flaunt their privilege and laugh off DUI convictions. “When celebrities joke about their crimes, it conveys that this behavior is normal. This is exactly the wrong message to send about DUIs. Celebrities must remember that they are role models…Pretending to be above the law and becoming a public disgrace have become pathetically normal for Hollywood stars.”

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A Good Samaritan Takes Car Keys
From Drunk Driver – in Traffic!

Watch this driver rectify a potentially disastrous situation. He spots a drunk driver weaving in front of him, and does the right thing.




West Virginia Offers DUI Offenders a Fast Track to an Ignition Interlock

The landscape for DUI offenders in West Virginia is about to change for the better. A new law allows people charged with DUI to join the state’s ignition interlock program immediately, provided they waive their hearing.

An ignition interlock is a device which tests a driver’s breath and prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above a certain level.

bigstock-traffic-stop-22175018-900x273In most states, a person charged with DUI can request a hearing to challenge the case immediately. If the hearing is unsuccessful, punishment may include having to drive with an interlock, after a set period of suspension elapses.

The West Virginia law lets offenders who accept the charge skip right to the interlock, instead of losing their license for a period of time.

It might seem counter-intuitive to some: why let DUI offenders drive? But in fact, ignition interlock programs are known to reduce alcohol-related road accidents and fatalities. The reason is that too many
offenders, particularly problem drinkers who pose the worst danger, continue to drink and drive without their licenses.

Ignition interlocks are the proven, practical answer. They prevent an offender from driving if they have been drinking. They also collect data on failed tests, so the authorities can track the progress of the driver’s efforts to adhere to a sobriety program.

The West Virginia DMV says that the effect will be twofold: it will protect other motorists and pedestrians,by keeping impaired drivers off the roads, and also speed up the  offender’s rehabilitation.

Congratulations to West Virginia for making their roads safer.

9 Worrying Facts about Drinking and Babies

BabyDrinking during pregnancy is considered, by many, to be extremely dangerous. If you are pregnant and take a drink, your unborn child is having the same drink.

Indeed, according to the Women’s and Children’s Health Network, the alcohol will reach your unborn baby and his or her blood alcohol level will be the same as yours. They go on to state that for pregnant women there is no safe time to drink alcohol, and no safe amount.

Consider the following before drinking during pregnancy.

  1. 7 million children under 18 in the U.S. have alcoholic parents.
  2. If you’re addicted to alcohol during pregnancy, they will be too.
  3. Exposing a fetus to alcohol increases the child’s risk of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
  4. For children who have their first drink at 12 years of age, the prevalence of lifetime alcohol dependence is 41%.
  5. Children of alcoholics are 4 times more likely to develop a drinking problem.
  6. Underage kids see 45% more alcohol ads than legal drinking adults.
  7. 40,000 babies are born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome each year.
  8. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome has risen 50% in the last three years.
  9. Alcohol withdrawal for a baby begins just hours after birth and can last up to 18 months.

Once again, if you are expecting a baby, drinking alcohol is the worst way possible to start off the new life inside you.

License Suspension for DUI?
It Just. Doesn’t. Work.

A Colorado study confirms the bad news: license suspension does not work as a punishment for DUI. The number of motorists cited for drunken driving who are driving without a valid license is an astonishing one in four.

license suspension doesn't work for duiRocky Mountain PBS I-News and 9News analyzed electronic court records of more than 45,000 DUIs issued in Colorado from April 2012 through April 2014. Almost 11,000 of that group should not have been driving, due to a license that was suspended, restricted or revoked. That’s an average of 15 a day.

It’s common to hear well-intentioned people demand that drunk drivers lose their license altogether. The problem is, a license is just a piece of paper. People who drink and drive often ignore suspended or revoked licenses. After a week or a month of suspension, they decide that the inconvenience of not driving outweighs the consequences of being caught without a license – even that of being caught driving impaired without a license.

Moreover, these people are dangerous. Driving impaired, and often uninsured, they pose a risk to everyone on the road.

There is hope of change. At the beginning of 2014 Colorado passed a law that allows first-time DUI offenders to regain their license with the use of an ignition interlock, a device which presents a common-sense solution to the ignition interlocks save livesproblem. An ignition interlock prevents a car from starting if the driver’s breath alcohol concentration (BAC) is above a preset level. Usually a camera records the breath test, so that the offender cannot cheat. Repeat tests are given during a typical journey so that the driver can’t drink after starting the car.

The use of ignition interlocks appears counterintuitive to those who feel that license suspension is a more appropriate punishment for drunken driving. And perhaps it would be – if a lack of license really kept impaired drivers off the roads. But the Colorado study shows that it doesn’t. As long as people ignore DUI laws and license suspensions, ignition interlocks are the way to go.

Taxi Companies and the Anti-Drunk-Driving Cause: A Natural Partnership

When concerned citizens want to raise funds to fight drunk driving, they Walk Like MADD. A fundraiser held in cities across the nation, Walk Like MADD unites people who believe that our roads are no place for impaired Call a taxi and avoid drunk drivingdrivers: parents, teens, law enforcement personnel, government officials, and just about everyone who cares about road safety. Sponsors of these walks include local businesses, schools, and public-spirited organizations. The money raised aids in the campaign for public awareness and better anti-drunk-driving legislation and enforcement.

In Homer Glen, Illinois on June 8th, one of the local Walk Like MADD’s sponsors will be Telecab, a taxi company which has served the region for 19 years. The company’s staff and drivers are proud to take to the road for the fundraiser. “The statistics don’t lie,” says John Buchanan, Telecab’s operations manager. “Drunk driving has been cut in half since 1980, when MADD began its fight against drunk drivers! TeleCAB wants to do all it can to keep drunk and distracted drivers off the roads.”

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It’s a natural partnership. Taxi companies are in business to give rides, and they have a ready market in all the people who have been out drinking and who should not be behind the wheel.  For years MADD has been encouraging people to call a taxi when theyre not in shape to drive home.

Taxis are a business, but they’re also a valuable resource for keeping streets — and their residents — safe. Everyone who drinks should keep a taxi company’s number handy.

Weak DUI Laws Put Children in Peril

Most of anti-drunk-driving ads portray the horrors of the crash – we see a car, driven by a drunk, careening into pedestrians or another car full of innocents.

child-victim-drunk-drivingBut the innocents are not always in the other car or on the street. Often they are riding with — and in the care of — the impaired drivers, who seem fine with risking their kids’ lives along with their own.

A recent study in Pediatrics found that almost two-thirds of children who died while riding with drunken drivers were not wearing seat belts. The drivers themselves often survived the crashes, suggesting that the children might have too — had they been wearing seat belts.

Another finding by the study’s authors – Dr. Kyran Quinlan of Northwestern University and researchers from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – was just as shocking. Many of the drivers involved in these fatal accidents had no valid driver’s license. Usually adults drive without a license because it has been revoked for a serious violation, such as Driving Under the Influence (DUI).

This study points to a serious problem with enforcement of DUI laws. Too many drunk drivers — unlicensed drunk drivers, no less — are getting on the roads and endangering their own children as well as everyone else on the road.

The answer is stronger ignition interlock laws and better enforcement of laws against driving without a license and mandated ignition interlocks. Right now, children’s lives are at risk, and that is never acceptable.