Drunk and Drugged Driving
Debbie Weir  -  2004/12/15
What is the best way to make a STRONG impression on his country's youth... not just an impression, but one they will never forget-about the dangers of drunken/drugged driving. It seems that we use now does not work.
1.  Tricia
 It seems there needs to be more of a focus on the parents. Alcohol has become imbedded into the fabric of our soiety. THink of the last back yard BBQ you attended. RIght next to the coooler of pop was probably a cooler of beer. Adults drink at their kid's birthday parties, after work, at weddings...all the time! And I'm not referring to adults who are abusing the substance. So our kidsteens are left with Do as I say not as I do. And that does not convince them to not drink. Aside from that there are those parents who actually allow their kids to drink.
2.  Liza Schejtman
 Unfortunately, the county that I work in is a very poor one.... and community activism in this area is pretty poor. Though we have programs that do try.... it is sort of like puting your finger in one small hole in the dike, when the hole is actually the size of the Grand Canyon. As the Drug and Alcohol Evaluator for Family Court in one of the poorer counties in NJ, I feel powerless sometimes, but I do not allow it to stop me from doing my best for these kids. Any Ideas on how to stop the flood???
3.  Tira
 How do you propose preventing access of alcohol to minors?
4.  debbie weir
 This is a very good question. MADD has a three-prong mission and one of the prongs is to prevent underage drinking. Many of MADD's programs are focused on youth programs and underage drinking. Some suggestions include setting up mock crash programs and peer impact programs. However, one of the most important issues is to prevent access to alcohol.
What guidelines do you suggest when first dealing with victims of impaired driving crashes? Not all relatives, survivors, and victims accept assistance readily, and some are resentful when contacted. Is there a time period afterwhich victims have recovered and are more willing to accept help?
1.  Anne Doerr
 How closely does MADD work with the local law enforcement advocates?
2.  Barb Stone
 I work as a victim advocate in a prosecutor's office. I work with all reckless homicide cases. I always make contact; however, you have to handle each case individually. The most important thing is to provide information regarding court dates and help the families to understand the language. Some families want you with them throughout the entire process, others only want information. However, if a family isn't contacted regarding services they can be very upset. Just notify and go from there.
3.  carolyn hulme
 have you had any negative feedback from that method of outreach? our experience with other families of homicide victims is that they expeience it as either too pushy or impersonal or they are too traumatized to make use of the information.
4.  debbie weir
 MADD recommends offering services as soon as we hear of the crash. We send a "We Care" card offering services available to bereaved families and injured crash survivors. We wait for a response and if we don't get one in a short period of time, we will initiate contact again, by another card and/or phone. It is important to respect a family's privacy when they are coping with death or injuries caused by another. Many of the families we have helped through the years claim they only wish they had sought our services sooner. Some families have excellent support systems within the family and community and do not wish to have outside help. Again, we should be thoughtful of their needs.
I am curious to know about laws or regulations reguarding marijuana. I understand that it is legal in some states to possess a certain amount of marijuana, but in reguards to use,how is this measured on a scale of being intoxicated? The legal limits for alcohol are posted and heard every where. Why arent the regulations reguarding the intoxication of this drug heard? Alcohol impairs judgement, what are the effects of being under the influence of marajuana? Are teenagers given sufficient education concerning this subject?
1.  Stephen Talpins
 Several states have enacted per se DUI drugs legislation. The statutes are limited to illicit drugs like cocaine, cannabis (marijuana), LSD, etc. The statutes do not require the State to link the usage to impairment (an easy way to think of them is as statutes prohibiting the internal possession of certain drugs or their metabolites while driving). Cannabis (marijuana) can be very impairing. Today's cannabis is far stronger than that used in the 1960's-1970's. Cannabis can diminish coordination, impair judgment (including relaxed inhibitions), and impair perception of time and distance. In higher doses, it may cause disorientation or even paranoia. Signs and symptoms of cannabis intoxication include increased pulse and blood pressure, possibly dilated pupils, and body or eyelid tremors. Cannabis impairment may last up to 24 hours (during which the person may not even realize he or she is impaired). A cannabis user typically exhibits some effects for 2-3 hours.
2.  debbie weir
 I do not know the answer to this particular question. Marijuana can cause impairment. I would be happy to research this question more and provide an answer at a later time.
3.  Craig
 In Indiana it is basically zero tolerance for any drug. So all you would have to do would be test positive for any level and that would do it. Drivers are educated on this.
What if anything can law enforcement do to improve our efforts in this area.
1.  Joanne Ferrary
 Our MADD chapter supports our enforcement efforts by raising the awarenes of checkpoints and saturation patrols, but we don't get many referrals for victim help. We have given them Crash Reconstruction Templates with our contact #'s, perhaps business cards to give victims would be better.
2.  debbie weir
 MADD is sincerely appreciative of law enforcement activities and one of MADD's top priorities is to focus on increased law enforcement activities, law enforcement includes working with local police and prosecutors. A victim/survivor of impaired driving benefits greatly when MADD and law enforcement work hand in hand. It would be very helpful if law enforcement officers networked with MADD and referred victims to MADD and other agencies for assistance. You are the first point of contact for a victim and the victim will benefit from the potential referrals for help that you provide.
What is the best way to persuade legislative bodies at any level that making liquor outlets part of the solution, ie. keg registration, is good public policy?
1.  debbie weir
 Thank you for your question. Your question is directly related to some public policy initiatives of MADD. I invite you to visit madd.org and read MADD's position on issues such as social host and server responsibilities.
I am a clinician who provides free and confidential services to victims of OUI and I have found it challenging to get referrals. What have you found to be effective outreach methods for victims of OUI, especially the injured population?
1.  sokley oeur
 Here are some of the outreach places we have done in our program: chiropractic offices, social service agencies, auto insurances, libraries, nonprofit agencies, churches, and other places that have a community bulletin board (banks, supermarkets).
2.  debbie weir
 Excellent question, especially the focus on injured victims. MADD is trying to reach out to more injured victims as well. First, I would suggest networking with local MADD victim advocates because often a MADD victim advocate is asked by victims/survivors for referrals. Also, networking with local hospitals, including social workers and chaplains, inpt and outpt rehab facilities, Centers for Independent Living, and also establishing connections with state Crime Victim Compensation Programs.
Ms Weir, We are currently having problems with prosecution of DUI cases in our State. I think a court watch program would be very effective in changing this problem. If the media was aware what was happening in our courtrooms I think the public outcry would deafening. Do you have any information on how successful court watch programs have been in other communities. Thank you, Kristin Joyce
1.  debbie weir
 Joyce, thank you for your question. MADD believes that court watch programs can have an effect on the outcome of cases. MADD's Court Monitoring Programs are active in some key states and we hope to expand. I do not have specific information on data related to success rates, but can easily research that for you. We do have a court monitoring program coordinator at our office. Please email me at debbie.weir@madd.org and I will follow up with additional information.
When speaking with many emergency responders about the impact drunk driving has had on their life, both personally and professionally, they have voiced a real interest in sharing that impact as part of the Victim Impact Panels. The individual victims who speak at our panels are supportive of including the responders. What is your experience with responders being a part of the panels and what do you see as the risks / benefits?
1.  debbie weir
 Victim Impact Panels were established to reduce recidivism and to allow individuals to share their personal experiences in a helpful way. Many drunk driving panels include first responders (law enforcement, emergency medical professionals, medical examiners, etc.) to reinforce the presentation by the victims/survivors. The benefits of including these panelist testimonies often show how many people, other than the ones hurt or killed in the crash, are dramatically impacted by the event. Participants at the panel may be able to relate to a specific presenter for various reasons thus reinforcing the messages. One risk may be that the panel evolves into a program with fewer victim/survivor testimonies, with less emphasis on the trauma and loss experiences of the victims. People who experience the trauma as first responders are often overlooked as having been victimized by the event.
How can we (as prosecutors) work better with victims and victim groups?
1.  debbie weir
 Thanks for your question, Steve. I think that it is crucial for prosecutors to set time aside to meet with victims/survivors and their families to discuss the case in detail, especially details that may be related to a plea bargain or difficulty in successful prosecution. Preparing families for the reality of the court case which may include subpoenas, continuances,delays, releases, and facing the offender in court. Victims have the right to be heard and if prosecutors and their staff are responsive this will go a long way in the integrity of the relationship with the victim. It is also important for prosecutors to encourage victim impact statements for more than restitution purposes. MADD looks forward to working with the prosector community on issues related to victims/survivors.
2.  Barb Stone
 Have you checked into grants for funding for victim advocates for your office. I am a prosecutor based victim advocate. I contact victims and families and make them aware of court dates and terminology. Most of the felony cases in our office take at least one year to conclude. In that time I've built a relationship. I can keep the prosecutor informed as to the personalities of victims and families, etc. Otherwise, attend conferences and trainings regarding victim services.
3.  Joanne Ferrary
 Our MADD Chapter often gets referrals from our DA's office, but they rely on the victims to contact us many times. If we were to get a list of all cases involving DWI, we could better contact the victims to explain our services and availability to help.
Where have all our court monitors gone? As a Prosecutor it was very helpful to have MADD in the courtroom. It seems that is happening much less. Has this been deemphasized?
1.  debbie weir
 Thanks for your question, Tom. Court monitoring activities at MADD are actually increasing. We are currently developing volunteer recruitment trainings. The court monitoring program is maintained by volunteers and we need more volunteers. Please email me your location and I will have MADD's manager of court monitoring contact you directly about the possibility of increase activities in your community. Thank you for your interest.
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