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Substance Abuse

Study: In-Car Breathalyzers Effective In Reducing Alcohol-Related Fatalities

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A year after University of Michigan researchers attested to the advantage of using alcohol ignition vehicle devices, a new study supports this stand.

The new research, conducted by a research team from the University of Pennsylvania, looked into data on car crash deaths recorded in the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration between 1999 and 2013. The data came from 18 states where breathalyzer-equipped car ignition systems were required for drunk driving violators, as well as 32 states without this policy.

Results of the data review revealed that the implementation of laws concerning the use of alcohol ignition interlocks effectively reduced the rate of alcohol-related deaths by 15 percent.

Study author Dr. Elinore Kaufman shared the motivation behind the study through a news release. “The number of times that I have had to talk to a family and tell them that they lost their son or brother or daughter or sister to something so preventable as a drunk driving crash, it’s hard to count even in my short time of practice,” Kaufman said.

The study, which was recently published in the American Journal of Public Health, is a good source of support in preventing drunk driving incidents. Although the policy on using in-car breathalyzers is not required, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is continuing to push the recommendation for all U.S. states to enforce alcohol ignition interlocks for people convicted due to drinking under the influence.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving government affairs officer J.T. Griffin said that having these devices installed in vehicles is beneficial for both driver and the general public. “With the interlock on board, they can’t drive drunk. It’s a win for the offender: They keep their license and can do the basic things they need to do… For us, as law-abiding citizens, they can’t drive drunk and hit us while out on the roads,” Griffin expressed.


Alcohol Testing Health & Wellness

Alcohol Ignition Vehicle Device May Help Prevent Drunk-Driving Fatalities

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Would you believe that installing a device in your car may prevent you from figuring in an accident caused by drunk driving?

This seems to be the objective of a group of researchers from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and the University of Michigan Injury Center, as they looked into the impact of alcohol ignition interlock devices. Results of the study, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health, showed that the vehicle installation could decrease drunk-driving car crashes by 85 percent, equivalent to more than 59,000 fatalities in a span of 15 years.

In addition, the device could also prevent more than a million alcohol-related injuries on the road over the same time frame. Return of investment for the purchase and installation of the alcohol-sensing device is projected at three years, with the U.S. government able to save close to $350 billion within 15 years.

Although the researchers were confident with their study, lead author Dr. Patrick Carter of the university’s Department of Emergency Medicine expressed their surprise over the numbers. “Our analysis clearly demonstrates the significant public health benefit and societal cost savings associated with including alcohol ignition interlock devices as standard equipment in all new cars,” Carter said in a news release.

Data collated by the study proponents showed that 35 percent of DUI accidents involved drivers between 21 and 29 years of age. “By capitalizing on recent technological advancements that make alcohol-detecting sensors seamless to the driver and applying such technology more broadly to all newly built vehicles, we can actually have a substantial injury prevention impact among traditionally hard-to-reach high-risk populations,” Carter added.

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Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

More Women Being Arrested for DUI in California

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Significantly more women are being arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in California, according to an analysis of Department of Motor Vehicles data performed by the KPCC public radio station. women alcohol drinker

Women accounted for about 11% of DUI arrests in 1989, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, and that number increased to about 24% in 2011, which is the last year for which statistics are available.

“They were somewhat stable in the 1980s and then began to go up and just accelerated, particularly from 1999 to 2011,” said Steven Bloch, senior research associate with the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Young women were largely responsible for the increase in statewide DUI arrests in that time period. In Los Angeles County, DUI arrests of women ages 21 to 30 years old jumped by about 134% from 1999 to 2011.

Another group that stood out during the same period was women over the age of 50:

  • Arrests of women age 51 to 60 years old rose by 81%.
  • Arrests of female drivers age 61 to 70 climbed by 67%.
  • Women older than 70 saw a 76% increase in DUI arrests.

Conversely, overall DUI arrests for male drivers in L.A. County fell from 1999 to 2011, with the only age group seeing an increase being men between the age of 51 to 70 years old.

The Traffic Injury Research Foundation found similar results in a survey of women arrested for driving under the influence in California, Michigan, Missouri, and New York.

“We don’t know if more women are drinking and driving,” Erin Holmes, who is with the foundation, said. “All we do know is that more women are being arrested.”

Researchers have yet to come up with a definitive reason to explain the rise. One explanation is that law enforcement has made it a priority to get impaired drivers off the roads.

Alcohol Testing Drug Testing Substance Abuse

Elderly Sober Man Charged with DUI Plans to Sue Arizona Police

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A seemingly simple DUI case has turned into a racist issue and a possible lawsuit.

Jessie Thornton, 64, was stopped in Surprise, Arizona by police who claimed that he was drunk driving. According to Thornton, the police officers pulled him over because he ran the white line in the middle of the road. The cops then declared that his eyes were red, as reported in the Daily Mail.

“An officer walked up and he said, ‘I can tell you’re driving DUI by looking in your eyes.’ I take my glasses off and he says, ‘You’ve got bloodshot eyes,'” Thornton said. But the Ohio native said that he just came from swimming at LA Fitness, hence the red eyes.

Apparently the cops weren’t convinced, and proceeded to conduct a sobriety test. True enough, the breathalyzer read a blood alcohol level of “0.00”, which means that there was zero alcohol in his bloodstream. Thornton confirmed this, saying that he did not drink any alcoholic drinks prior to driving.

Despite this, the officers brought him to the station, where he was subjected to drug tests for possible substance abuse. The station’s drug recognition expert declared him completely “free from impairment” caused by drugs.

After being released, Thornton learned that his driver’s license was going to be suspended for the time being, and his vehicle impounded for three days.

Thornton claims that the arrest was fueled not by DUI but by race. He says he was DWB — driving while black. He is now in talks with a lawyer for a possible lawsuit against the Surprise police station, amounting to $500,000 in damages.

Alcohol Testing

Critics: Reducing Blood Alcohol Content Limit Is Not The Answer To Drunk Driving Fatalities

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A recent proposal to decrease the blood alcohol content (BAC) threshold for drivers is getting flak from anti-drunk driving advocates.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a comprehensive report lobbying to reduce the legal limit of a non-commercial driver’s blood alcohol level from 0.08 to 0.05. By logic, this seems common sense, since drivers with lower alcohol content in their blood tend to function better on the road than drunk drivers.

However, critics and advocates are not pleased with this effort, according to a news release. In fact, the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) believes that the government’s focus is slightly off-base. MADD President Jan Withers expressed her opposition to the proposal, saying that reducing the BAC limit “will take a lot of effort for a potential result that is many, many years down the line.”

In its report entitled “Reaching Zero: Actions to Eliminate Alcohol-Impaired Driving”, the NTSB discusses the relative crash risk of a driver with varying blood alcohol content levels. The study shows that drivers with a BAC of 0.05 have 38 percent likelihood of figuring in a drunk-driving accident, while at 0.08 the driver has more than 150 percent risk.

Despite the clashing sides, the NTSB and its critics agree that drunk drivers should be kept off the road, and that effective policies must be in place to reduce incidents of drunk-driving accidents. Driver education on the effects of drinking must be strengthened, while technologies to prevent drunk people from driving should be further developed.

NTSB Chair Deborah Hersman says that the statistics of road fatalities due to alcohol impairment may have plateaued, but the issue has not been totally solved yet.

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.”

Alcohol Testing Substance Abuse

Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over: Keeping Your Holidays Safe

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We have heard it time and again: the holidays are a season to be jolly and merry. There is, however, nothing merry about being involved in a traffic accident – or being the cause of a tragedy – because you had a little too much to drink.

The Department of Transportation is spearheading a campaign called “Drive Sober, or Get Pulled Over.” The objective of the campaign is to reduce the number of alcohol-related car crashes over the holidays.

Here are a few things to remember before taking that first sip at your next holiday party.

Assign a designated driver. If you are going to the party with a group, then pick a designated driver and ensure that there will be someone sober for the drive home.

When in doubt, call a friend. It can be difficult to admit that one is already too drunk, but it is one of the things that you should be keen about when at a party. When you find yourself doubtful about your sobriety, have no second thoughts about not getting behind the wheel, and call a friend to pick you up, or a taxi service to take you home.

Carry an alcohol level test. Nowadays, there are a number of breath alcohol detector tests that are available in the market. In the interest of your own safety, as well as that of other people you may encounter on the road, testing before hitting the road is definitely a good idea.

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.

Alcohol Testing Substance Abuse

DUI Breath Interlock Devices Prone to Malfunctions

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What should have been a way for DUI defendants to drive prior to appearing in court has become the cause of headaches that more than two-thirds of those who are expected to use it choose not to.

drunk drivingThe Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device, or BAIID, is used by DUI defendants to test alcohol level before driving. If the individual happens to blow even a small amount of alcohol into the device, that person will be unable to start the car. Users also need to blow into the device every 10 to 15 minutes while driving. The system will deter anyone from driving drunk.

The thing is, the device is picking up more than just alcohol from tequila shots at a friend’s party, as shared in a report on Fox News Chicago. Even Wonder bread, pizza and hotdog buns can set the device off and prevent users from driving – even if one did not drink at all. Alcohol testing consultant Dr. Ron Henson shares that they have found that pizza crust from certain locations can put a reading on the device more so than others.

Defense attorney Donald Ramsell said: “What was intended to be a boon has become a boondoggle.”

Henson also said that the device is more often triggered by enriched white bread, and pizza from Casey’s General Stores – based on the experiences of users. Experts hypothesize that the amount of yeast in the pizza crust may have something to do with it. The device can also be triggered by cough medicines, oral pain relievers and mouthwash.

Substance Abuse

Man Too Drunk to Attend DUI Hearing!

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It certainly looks like a DUI charge is not enough to wean a Nebraska man from drinking. Oh well, DUIs are practically a dime a dozen these days and no longer seems like a deterrent. When you have celebrities posing for mug shots on DUI charges one too many times, some may actually think it’s kinda chic.

alcoholic drinksA feature on MyWay.com tells how Jason Botos was too hammered on sentencing day that another warrant of arrest was issued against him. Botos pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drunken driving charge after figuring in a collision with five other vehicles in September, 2009.

Botos had a hearing scheduled for Thursday last week, and his father drove him to the Papillion courthouse. He was so drunk, though, that dad needed help from deputies to get him out of the car. Even if he got out of the vehicle, he was still too drunk to attend his own hearing, according to prosecutor Ben Perlman. Eventually, the judge issued a warrant and Botos was arrested by deputies in the parking lot.

Another hearing is set for Tuesday.