Underage Drinking During the Holidays

This holiday season it is very important to make sure that your teenager is safe especially with all of the holiday parties and the free flowing of alcohol. While holidays are certainly a time to celebrate, it does not give you an excuse to drive under the influence or to get in the car with someone who is highly intoxicated. There are a few precautionary steps you can take to ensure that your teenager remains safe this holiday season. New York State in particular created numerous initiatives in 2013 to help stop DUI/DWUIs.

Here are a few ways you can ensure that your teenager stays safe this holiday season:

1) Take advantage of free state-wide initiatives. As previously mentioned New York State as well as numerous other states across the US has initiated free taxi ride services on holidays that have been associated with heavy drinking patterns. Take advantage of these services, especially if you think your college age student would possibly be drinking. While you don’t want to encourage them to drink, you also want to educate them if they choose to do so anyway.

2) Arrange for a sober designated driver (DD). Make sure you talk to your teen about getting in a car with someone who is intoxicated. Always offer to pick up your teen no matter what circumstance. It’s also a good idea to know where they are going or who they are staying with. It’s important for your teen to know they can call you without fear. Otherwise they may decide getting in trouble for drinking behind your back is too risky and get in the car with someone who is intoxicated.

3) Speak your concerns. For an older teen or 20 year old, it may be harder to control their actions. Chances are they have their own car or have been away at college for one or even three years before turning 21. This is where it gets hard to speak with your older teen. It’s better to start conversations about alcohol at a younger age rather than to keep alcohol or drug use taboo in your household. These will open the doors of communication for your teen to open up to you. It’s best to be preventative when it comes to substance use education. However, have in mind that scare tactics are less effective. You want your teen to always be armed with the best education no matter what situation arises. Chances are if something does go wrong no adult will be present, just their peers and in some cases these could be life and death situations.

In any cases it’s important for teens to know the consequences of drinking, whether that is jail time, academic probation from college, an underage drinking record or a loss of license, knowing the consequences of their actions ahead of time may help a teen to decide not to engage in underage drinking or driving while under the influence. This holiday try to make family time an important priority so your teen is not bored and looking for entertainment that involves alcohol.

Bio: Melissa currently writes for St. Jude Retreats, a non 12 step alternative to traditional alcohol and drug rehab. As well as writing for St. Jude’s, Melissa enjoys blogging about health and relationships.

Student Video: Flashes – Between the Lines

We received a recent note from a group of students in Evergreen Valley High School, who produced a video that shows the effects of drinking and driving and the consequences that can follow.

To help promote safe driving, we’re sharing their video here as well:

Video Credit: Aaron Kalodrich, Dana Ngo, and Vincent Wang Evergreen Valley High School

3-month-old baby boy dies in hot car as father allegedly smoked pot

PHOENIX - Three-month-old Jamison Dean Gray died Thursday in a hot car when he was left there for over an hour by his father who was smoking marijuana at the time.

According to police spokesman Sgt. Tommy Thompson, 31-year-old Daniel Bryant Gray, left his son in a parked car and forgot about him while smoking pot with a co-worker. The baby died due to excessive heat in the car.

Gray was charged with manslaughter and child abuse. He was locked up in an Arizona jail. Thompson said that late Thursday night, they got information due to which they believe that Gray was smoking pot with a colleague when he forgot that his son, Jamison Dean Gray, was in his car. By the time Gray realized that his son was in the car, it was too late.

On Wednesday, the temperature in Phoenix was 102 degrees. Gray’s 3-month-old son was pronounced dead at the hospital and the reason was hot weather.

At first, police report showed that Gray got busy and forgot about the boy but court documents showed that after the investigation, the investigators came to know by a witness that Gray and a colleague had been standing beside Gray’s car and they both were smoking pot.

The other employee who was smoking with Gray was not identified by the police and he said he didn’t see the baby in the car and didn’t know Gray was a father.

Gray told police he lost track of time after he stopped at BT’s Sports Pub in Phoenix, where he works as a kitchen manager.

During the 1st court hearing, a prosecutor said, “There’s no question” that Gray didn’t intend his son to die. Deputy Maricopa County Attorney George Kelemen Jr. said that the death is just like an impaired driver causes a death of his/her passenger. Kelemen also noted that Gray has a criminal record that includes convictions for possession of marijuana and aggravated DUI. He said that Gray’s history shows that he was charged with substance abuse. Kelemen told a judge who set bail for Gray, “The state believes the tragedy that occurred Wednesday is not simply an unavoidable mistake of a thoughtful parent”.

Gray is being held on $100,000 bond. He didn’t have a lawyer.

On Thursday, Phoenix police sent their investigation to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to determine if charges would be filed. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said, “There are circumstances where we look at the situation and have to determine that even the most attentive parent might have made a similar decision that again resulted in a horrific accident”.

Jamison’s mother, Rebecca Hillary, is trying to cope with the loss of her child. On Friday afternoon she said, “He was always such a good boy; all he wanted to do is smile, that’s all he did. He just loved to smile and play and he was just so happy”.

“Our family is beyond devastated. There are no words to describe the pain and heartache we are experiencing. I can’t even imagine what his mother is going through”, Jamison’s aunt wrote on her blog.
Police are still investigating the incident.

Author Bio:
Attorney Jeanne Morales is an experienced Attorney who represents people for bankruptcy, SSD and Immigration cases in Texas.

Arizona’s Dram Shop Law

In any sort of drunken-driving incident, it is very likely that there are grave losses or injury. While the drunken driver must certainly be held accountable for their careless actions, Arizona believe the driver may not be the only party who must be held responsible.

In Arizona, a person who has been injured or a family who has lost a loved one due to a drunken-driving accident has the right to not only pursue the offender, but also the right to pursue a dram shop action against the establishment that knowingly sold alcohol to a minor or to an intoxicated individual. It can be any establishment that holds a liquor license issued by the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control (ADLLC). The liquor license may be required to pay for losses caused by property damage and personal injuries. The establishment can also be named a defendant in a wrongful death suit.

Arizona officials believe this law will encourage establishments that sell alcohol to take reasonable steps to protect the public from foreseeable danger. Establishments implicitly accept this duty to the public in exchange for the right to sell alcohol.

Under Arizona law, serving alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person creates a foreseeable risk to the public. Officially, an “obviously intoxicated person” is someone who shows physical signs of intoxication, such as uncoordinated movements, slurred speech or other significant physical dysfunctions that would make it obvious to a reasonable person he or she was intoxicated.

The state legislature believes the person serving the alcohol has the best judgment to know whether the person buying is drunk and should no longer be served. Thus, liquor licensees that knew or under reasonable circumstance should have known the customer was intoxicated and continued to serve him or her are just as responsible as the offending driver for any injuries or deaths caused after leaving the establishment.

What underage drivers need to know about Drunk Driving and BAC

In the United States, it is illegal for a person under the age of 21 years to possess alcohol. You may already be aware of the fact that all states enforce the legal limit for BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) of 0.08%, but for drivers under the age of 21 years, the laws are much harsher and stricter. In most jurisdictions, the legal limit for underage drivers is 0.02%, but many states have a Zero Tolerance policy for underage DUI offenses. To understand how underage drunk driving laws work, you first need to understand some of the terms and what they really stand for:

BAC – Blood Alcohol Content
BAC is a direct measurement of the actual amount of alcohol flowing in your body. It is a standard tool for testing and setting a legal limit for intoxication. Most countries including the entire North American continent have chosen 0.08 as the legal BAC level because the time a person reaches this level, their coordination is notably affected. However, different people have different tolerance levels and will show different signs of intoxication with the same BAC level or with the same amount of alcohol consumption.

The ONLY safe BAC level for driving is 0.00
DUI rules are usually stricter for drivers under the age of 21 and in most states, an underage driver found operating a vehicle with a BAC level of 0.02% or more is charged with a DUI. Other states follow a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy for underage drinkers which means that a BAC level of over 0% will trigger a DUI. Therefore, the only way to be safe is not to drink and drive.

Driving is an important part of our lives and in many cases, it is considered a requirement. Getting a drivers license gives you freedom and this sudden freedom is often mistaken as a right by most underage drivers instead of a privilege. Young drivers feel like they are adults once they start driving, and they think that they were granted a license because they can drive without harming others. Most of this is just an illusion which can vanish the moment you get behind the wheel after having a drink.

Statistics never lie
You will be surprised to know that 7% of all licensed drivers in the United States are between the ages of 15 and 20 years. Statistics also show that underage drivers are twice as likely to die in a car crash than adults over the age of 21 years. This is why your family, parents, friends and even your neighbors watch you closely every time you drive away, because they are aware of the fact that there is a slight chance that you won’t come back! For you, avoiding that one sip of alcohol may seem tough, but that is not even close to what you may be up against if you are caught drinking and driving. Here is what you need to remember:

Forget about 0.8%
Everyone seems to be familiar with the legal driving limit for alcohol which is 0.08%, but as an underage driver, you can forget all about the 0.08% limit. For adults, this is the line of sand, which if they cross, can get them in a lot of trouble. But if you are under 21, anything above ZERO must be avoided because having ANY amount of alcohol in your system when you drive will get you arrested for DUI.

Consequences of a DUI
Apart from getting you behind bars, DUI at any age will mess with your license, your insurance, as well as your school and job. It will create family problems for you and will stay on your criminal record for the rest of your life. A DUI conviction also carries heavy fines, license suspension, community service and other penalties, not to forget your lawyers fee which can pretty high. So think of sparing an amount between $7,000 to $20,000 if you are arrested for a routine DUI. This cost covers the court levied fine, insurance rates, penalty assessment fee, state restitution fund, alcohol-abuse education fee, BAC testing fee, jail citation and release fee, fee for attending an alcohol awareness program, license re-issue fee, towing and storage fee, installation of an ignition interlock device and so on. This is the cost for a first time offense, which means that second or subsequent offenses carry even harsher fines and penalties.

Apart from the fines and penalties, there is also a psychological aspect in every DUI case. If you ended up hurting someone or even killing someone, that guilt will stay with you for the rest of your life. If you have damaged your vehicle, or the vehicle of the other driver, or caused damage to someone’s property, the estimated cost mentioned above is just a small fraction of what you will actually be required to pay.

Do not be fooled by the stories out there which tell you how you can beat a DUI. Almost all of those stories are wrong. If you were drinking and driving, it means you WERE drinking and driving and you should be held responsible for your actions. Period!

Never drink and drive
Even though, people as young as 15 years can obtain a driver’s license across the U.S. through under graduated license programs, these young drivers are still prohibited from buying alcohol until the age of 21 years. Statistics show that 10% of licensed drivers under the age of 21 are responsible for 17% of fatal alcohol related crashes. Moreover, approximately 2,000 underage drivers die every year on the roads, one third of them as a result of drunk driving. As a responsible citizen of the state, make sure you never get behind the wheel after drinking. Hire a cab, ask your friends or family to drive you back home, wait at the party to become sober or better yet, avoid drinking at all!

Author Bio:
San Francisco DUI attorney – Aaron Bortel is a member of California and national DUI associations, and for over 18 years, people have trusted his skill & judgment. Has a massive experience of handling DUI cases in California.