CHP, MADD and state officials team up to stop DUIs

December 29, 2009 12:01:23 PM PST
The Highway Patrol, state school officials and Mothers Against Drunk Driving are warning all of us about the dangers of driving drunk this New Year's Eve.

California School Superintendent Jack O'Connell, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and others say more and more teenagers are getting access to alcohol and a vehicle and it's a deadly combination. The solution they say rests squarely in the hands of parents, because by the time it turns up in schools or on the roadway -- it's too late.

"You can imagine my 115 pound wife sitting in that seat and now think about if it was your highschooler or junior high kid, with her size - that's just devastating," said drunk driver victim Steve Benjamin.

Steve Benjamin knows the pain of drunk driving -- a drunk hit his car at 75 miles-per-hour killing his wife, crippling him.

Just Tuesday morning, a 19-year-old woman died of an apparent alcohol related crash on I-580 in Richmond.

"Teens who drink and drive are at a far greater risk of being involved in an alcohol related crash. They simply do not have the tolerance, they do not have the experience, they are much more impaired than any other age group," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving says it is shifting its focus from telling young people not to drink and drive to telling parents, through their new Power of Parents program. They want parents to take matters into their own hands and to talk to their children and act.

"I was asked one time what is the biggest problem with under-age drinking. I said there are three things: accessibility, accessibility and accessibility. We have to literally keep alcohol out of the hands of our children. It's got to be locked up at home. I can't be available to them when they are out," said MADD Executive Director Beverly McAdams.

Law enforcement has its own message:

"So we want all of our drivers, both young and old, to assess their actions, to consider what they are doing and to be prepared to deal with the consequences," said CHP Officer Sam Morgan.

Consequences that Steve Benjamin knows all too well:

"Take a minute before something terrible happens -- you can't take it back," said Benjamin.

The number of DUI arrests in the Bay Area has gone down over the last two years.


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