What is it going to take to keep repeat drunk driving offenders off the roads?
A lot more than one conviction for “operating under the influence,” or OUI, according to Registered Motor Vehicle data for Massachusetts obtained by Fox25 Investigates.
The numbers are startling.
Tens of thousands of Massachusetts drivers did not get the message after the first conviction. The data shows that more than 45,000 drivers in the state have three or more OUI convictions. More than 2,500 drivers have more than five. In fact, one driver in the state had 21 convictions.
Ignoring the law has deadly consequences. Previous efforts to punish offenders centered on taking away a first-time offenders drivers’ license, something many repeat offenders simply ignore. A proposed new law would change that.
MADD, along with AAA, supports Senate Bill 1895 by Sen. James Timilty of Walpole, which requires first-time offenders to install ignition interlock devices (IID) in their cars. The device necessitates that the driver blows into a breathalyzer before the vehicle will start. Currently, state law in Massachusetts requires such a device after the second offense.
Requiring interlocks for all offenders will save lives. Oregon, Arizona, Louisiana, and New Mexico have all seen their drunk driving deaths drop by more than 30 percent after all-offender interlock laws were passed. CDC research finds reductions in repeat offenses of about two-thirds due to interlocks.
Does your state have an all-offender interlock law? Find out here.
Many teens are not aware of the serious risks drugs and alcohol poses to their health, to their success in school, and to their future. So the question is: What can communities do to effectively educate this generation of teens about drug abuse?
One way is for school staff, parents, and students to work together on awareness events that will provide teens with the facts about drug use. National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW) is a national health observance designed to arm communities with the materials and tools they need to influence teens to say no to drugs. Inspired by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institute of Health, NDAFW is in its sixth year and will be held from January 25 through 31, 2016.
"This week is designed to counteract the myths teens have about drug abuse, often reinforced by their peers, the Internet, and the entertainment industry," said NIDA Director, Nora D. Volkow, M.D. "When given the facts from people they trust, teens are in a better position to make good decisions about drug use.”
All around the country, science teachers, health teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, drug prevention programs, and community support programs are using the science-based information available FREE from NIDA in their curriculum, school assemblies, PTA meetings, and evening workshops to get the truth out. In some cases, local research scientists and government officials can be invited to participate in these important events.
This year, NDAFW is expecting more than 1,700 events with every state represented. These events range in size and scope, but they are all focused on educating and communicating with teens about drug and alcohol use and its consequences. NIDA staff can provide ideas and information to help make an educational event successful.
Some event ideas may include:
• A school assembly
• An addiction-themed art contest
• A graffiti fact wall
• A trivia night
• A panel discussion with local law enforcement, substance abuse counselors, and individuals affected by drug abuse.
• A government proclamation.
By: Brian Marquis, Public Liaison Officer, National Institute on Drug Abuse
New alcohol advertising guidelines, based on findings by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, could dramatically reduce the number of alcohol ads viewed by children – if advertisers follow them.
The new report, published in the January issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, found that our youth were exposed more than 15 billion times to alcohol ads on television – mostly on cable networks – between 2005 and 2012.
That means that about one in eight alcohol commercials were seen by children. No, make that absorbed by children. Not to mention these occurrences were already not in compliance with the alcohol industry’s previous self-regulatory advertising guidelines.
These commercials painted a picture of alcohol as fun and frivolous that children couldn’t help but take in, sending a dangerous and deadly message to our kids. Have no doubt, these ads played a role in shaping attitudes toward drinking and contributed to the number of underage drinkers and underage drunk drivers.
Underage drinking kills more than 4,300 people under the age of 21 annually, making it one of the top three leading causes of death in this age group. Study after study (14 reports, in fact) have concluded that alcohol advertisements play a role in the decision to drink by kids. It makes them more likely to drink and, if people under 21 years old already drink, it makes them more likely to drink even more.
The paper also outlines new standards for ad placement, often called a “no-buy” list, which would address almost all non-compliance issues – if advertisers chose to follow them more closely than the previous guidelines. These guidelines won’t end underage drinking, bottom line, but the new recommendations will have an impact if advertisers see the sense and cents in following them.
MADD’s Power of Parents® program gives parents the tools to start ongoing and intentional conversations with their kids about alcohol. If you see one of these alcohol advertisements on a program that your child watches, take the opportunity to have a discussion with them about the real consequences of drinking underage. If you need help getting started, download our parent handbook for tips and tricks on tackling this difficult subject at home.
The New York Stock Exchange honored MADD and helped us “ring” out our 35th Anniversary year of saving lives and serving victims by inviting the organization to ring the opening bell for the world’s largest exchange December 30th, 2015.
MADD staff, volunteers, and board members from Connecticut, New Jersey and New York joined me on the platform overlooking the floor as I pushed the button that rang the bell on all floors. MADD joined a prominent list of business and community leaders, celebrities, and others who’ve participated in this honor. And, as requests to take part in this historic tradition are often scheduled a year out, I was especially proud the NYSE selected MADD on such an important anniversary for our organization.
Our host Garvis Toler made all of us feel at home from the moment we arrived. Before we rang the bell, he presented us with a medallion to commemorate the day. Our experience in New York City was the perfect way to ring out the old year and ring in the new. Our goal, however, remains the same…to end drunk driving so there are No More Victims™.