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Some Sobering Information About Drunk Driving

After a Hollywood police officer rear-ended a car in February and then arrested the driver on drunken driving charges, he and other officers talked about doctoring the report–it said a jumpy cat created a distraction–to cover up the crash. The exchange was recorded by a dashboard camera in one of the patrol cars. The officers apparently didn’t realize it was on. “I don’t want to make things up ever, because it’s wrong, but if I need to bend it a little bit to protect a cop, I’m gonna,” one of the officers can be heard saying. “We’ll do a little Walt Disney to protect the cop because it wouldn’t have mattered because she is drunk anyway.” Alexandra Gabriela Torrensvilas, 23, of Hollywood, ended up charged with four counts of drunken driving and cited for improper lane change. On Tuesday, Hollywood police officials placed Officer Dewey Pressley, 42, Officer Joel Francisco, 36, Sgt. Andrew Diaz, 39; and civilian Community Service Officer Karim Thomas, age unavailable; on administrative duty pending an internal affairs investigation and a review by the Broward State Attorney’s Office, said spokesman Lt. Scott Pardon. Francisco was driving the car in the crash; Pressley wrote the report and made the arrest. Pressley’s report detailing the Feb. 17 midnight crash in the 2800 block of Sheridan Street said “a large gray stray cat” that had been sitting on Torrensvila’s lap jumped out of her car window and distracted her, causing her to veer into Francisco’s lane, where she
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An article entitled “Drunk Driving” was featured on the “Insurance Information Institute” website in February of 2007. Pardon the pun, but the following three statistical facts that were discussed in this article are quite “sobering.”

Alcohol-Related Fatalities

First, in spite of increasing the number of anti-drunk driving laws and campaigns, the number of people who died in alcohol-related accidents went down by only .2% from 2004 to 2005 (16,919 in 2004 versus 16,885 in 2005). While every life saved is important, this decrease, from a statistical standpoint, however, was not significant. In other words, the fact that 34 fewer people died in alcohol-related accidents in 2005 than in 2004 could have happened totally by chance rather than because of stricter drunk driving laws or because of the influence of citizen activist groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD).

Repeat DUI Offenders

Second, even with the passing of stricter DUI laws and consequences, over 50% of US drivers arrested for drunk driving are repeat offenders. This statistic is disturbing when viewed on its own merits. What has also become “newsworthy,” however, is the number of repeat offenders who have received an outrageous number of DUIs.

For instance in early 2006, an Ohio man who received 12 DUIs within a ten-year period of time killed two Hiram college students in an alcohol-related accident. Not surprisingly, many people in the local community were outraged with the driver who accidentally killed the two college students.

What was perhaps more revealing in this case, however, was the number of phone calls made to the radio talk shows by people asking who the judges and prosecutors were and what the consequences were for this driver after he received his 3rd, his 8th, and his 11th DUIs. In other words, people starting asking the “tough questions” regarding the accountability of those who received multiple DUIs as well as the accountability of the judges and prosecutors who were involved in the repeat offenders’ legal proceedings.

Many Drivers with Suspended Licenses Still Drive

Third, 67% of US drivers with suspended licenses still drive. From a logical standpoint, many people must be asking themselves how this is possible in an age of technological advancement that features capabilities such as “real-time” computer access to driver registration information that is available to the law enforcement community.

Drunk Driving Countermeasures

According to the authors of “Drunk Driving,” a number of countermeasures have been undertaken that have targeted alcohol-related fatalities on the US roads. For instance, existing drunk driving laws have become stricter, new laws have been passed, drunk driving task forces have been established by many states, and citizen activist groups such as MADD have influenced some of the attitudes toward drinking and driving in our society.

As noteworthy as these anti-drunk driving laws and campaigns have been, however, the fact remains that only 34 fewer people died in alcohol-related accidents in 2005 than in 2004. Obviously, other measures

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