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Substance Abuse

Study: U.S. Laws Bring Down Underage Drinking Death Rates

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Strict regulations and the existence of laws have been successful in curbing the number of cases associated with underage drinking. This was revealed by a study on the effectiveness of laws concerning drinking age.

The study, conducted by a team of researchers from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE), looked into 20 expanded laws involving underage drinking implemented in some U.S. states. The research team sifted through the strong and weak points of each law, particularly in terms of enforcement, coverage, and sanctions for violators.

According to the study, only nine of the 20 expanded laws were effective in bringing down the number of fatalities caused by drinking below the minimum legal age. These nine laws have the ability to save more than 1,100 persons from death on a yearly basis. Sadly, not all U.S. states have all of these laws implemented or even approved. “We were surprised to find that half of the states have adopted 13 or fewer laws, that only five can be found in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and that just one state, Utah, has adopted all 20,” said study lead author James Fell in a news item.

Some of the nine identified laws were associated with significant decreases in underage drinking-related deaths:

  • Presentation of fake ID to retailers: 11.9 percent decrease
  • License revocation in DUI cases: 7.9 percent
  • Alcohol possession: 7.7 percent decrease
  • Purchase of alcohol: 4.2 percent
  • Underage bartender: 4.1 percent

The study was published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.


Substance Abuse

Survey Shows an Overwhelming Number of Teens Driving Under the Influence

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A survey of more than 1,000 teenagers revealed an alarming rate of driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs. What’s worse, the teens do not think the use of such substances impair their driving ability.

According to the survey conducted by Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and Liberty Manual, nearly 40 percent of those who admitted drinking and driving believe it has no impact on their driving and some actually believe it improves their driving. Twenty-five percent of those who have driven under the influence of marijuana and twenty-three percent who reported driving under the influence of prescription drugs claim their substance misuse did not get in the way of their driving ability.

“These new data illustrate that there is clearly a strong need to increase the level of education around safe driving,” Dave Melton, a driving safety expert with Liberty Mutual Insurance, said in a news release. “The fact that an overwhelming number of teens admit to extremely unsafe driving habits and completely dismiss any risk concern yet still consider themselves safe drivers means either teens have a different definition of ‘safe’ or we need to do a better job of educating kids about the dangers of this type of behavior.”

The survey also found that summer is when many teens report driving under the influence, followed by a series of other celebratory events, such as Fourth of July, prom night, and graduation day.

SADD recommends that parents regularly communicate with their kids the importance of safe driving behavior, and it encourages schools to enhance their program or policy geared at preventing substance abuse and deterring risky behavior.

“School programs can only go so far,” Stephen Wallace, senior advisor for policy, research, and education at SADD, said. “For example, we know that teens are more likely to drink around events such as Fourth of July, which are less supervised than prom or graduation. It is up to parents to talk to their teens about the dangers of driving under the influence.”

Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Woman Killed in Crash While Rushing Home to Prep for DUI Class

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It is certainly sad and disheartening that a woman due to attend a DUI class met an untimely death on a California freeway – in an alcohol-related accident.

A feature on KTLA.com shared the story of 24-year-old Lidia Kopach, who figured in a fatal car accident last Thursday morning. Her passenger, 24-year-old Daniel Martinez, survived the accident with minor injuries, and shared a few details regarding what they had done before the incident.

drunk drivingMartinez shared with police officers at the scene that he had met up with Kopach at a bar in Monrovia for drinks. The Pasadena Star News reported that they drank two vodka drinks and shared two pitchers of beer. Martinez then said that Kopach had revealed that she needed to get home immediately to rest because she was due to attend a court-mandated DUI class later in the day. It was revealed further that Kopach had been convicted of DUI at West Covina Superior Court on September 30, 2009.

Unfortunately, as Kopach and Martinez were racing home at around 2:00 in the morning, she lost control of her car, and slammed into the center divider on the freeway. The vehicle then rolled over, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Jim Frausto.
Another young life cut so short, no thanks to alcohol.

Incidents such as these ought to serve as a reminder of the very real dangers of drinking and driving; when going out for drinks, it may be a good idea to simply leave the car at home and take a cab. If you decide to bring a vehicle, there should be a designated driver who will stay away from the booze.

Substance Abuse

Cop’s Defense on DWI and Manslaughter Charge: Victim Was Drunk!

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Last September, an off-duty cop reportedly ran over a woman in Brooklyn, an accident that resulted in the latter’s death. The victim was 32-year-old Vionique Valnord, the daughter of a minister. She was reportedly trying to hail a cab in the rain after attending a wedding when she was hit by a vehicle and killed.

breathalyzerFirst responders claimed that the driver, off-duty NYPD police officer Andrew Kelly, “smelled of alcohol and seemed to be drunk,” according to a report on Gothamist.com. The thing is Kelly reportedly scored a perfect zero after taking a court-ordered blood alcohol test – seven hours after the incident.

The same thing could not be said for the blood alcohol levels of Valnord, which, according to toxicology reports, were 0.22% in the blood, 0.23% in the eye fluid and 0.28% in the urine. The report was released Tuesday.

Kelly’s lawyer Arthur Aidala told the New York Daily News that Valnord’s blood alcohol levels – almost three times the legal limit, if she had been driving, that is – may have clouded her judgment and wandered into traffic, insinuating that she had caused the accident in the first place.

Valnord’s family is furious at this insinuation. Her sister Ruth said: “She was at least hailing a cab and not driving. He chose to drive drunk.” It is said that Kelly had refused a breathalyzer on the scene, but appeared drunk. There is also reportedly a video that shows him drinking before the accident – but he appeared clean in the blood alcohol test, which seems to have been taken more than just a wee bit too late to find anything of consequence.

New York Health Screening