Until recently the task of educating the public about juvenile DUI was undertaken almost exclusively by such groups as MADD, SADD, and other advocacy groups. Recent years have seen the emergence of more law-enforcement-based substance abuse educational programs. Criminal justice officials have come to realize that it is less expensive to prevent impaired driving through education than to initiate enforcement programs later on—although both components are necessary in truly comprehensive programs.
Alcohol Servers Knowledge Program and State Liquor Authority Seminar
Many owners and employees of establishments that sell alcohol have little or no knowledge of the legal responsibilities they incur when patrons leave under the influence of alcohol. The Alcohol Servers Knowledge (ASK) program, a five-hour course sponsored by the Knoxville (Tennessee) Police Department, raises those liability issues for discussion. Similar to the ASK program, a valuable initiative for alcohol license holders is to listen to representatives of the criminal justice system speak about the effects of drinking and driving. More than half of the 900 alcohol license holders in Albany County, New York, were trained at a New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) seminar. The chief of police would write letters inviting license holders to listen to speakers such as a DWI victim, an attorney, and a police officer, along with a representative of the licensing board.
These inexpensive programs boast many advantages. For example, rather than viewing each other as adversaries, now police officers, owners, and servers can work together toward a common goal. This initiative can also be made self-sufficient by requiring each participant to pay a registration fee.
In cooperation with the Sears Foundation, police in Hampton sponsor an Officer Friendly program. Selected officers are assigned to work with the public schools (grades K-3) to present role models for youth. The officers teach traffic safety, pedestrian safety, and responsible citizenship. Hampton served as the pilot city for this nationally recognized program.
Under the Adopt-A-School program, Hampton police officers are assigned to a middle school to work with administrators, teachers, and students. The officers then participate with the students at school events and make themselves available to interact with students one-on-one, emphasizing the negative effects of alcohol and substance abuse.
Hampton’s School Anti-Crime Detail involves assigned officers working with the Hampton School Administration. The officers’ activities are generally directed at area high schools, where they provide surveillance, patrol, informal counseling, and intervention and perform arrests if necessary. Additionally, they utilize a drug detection dog to conduct limited searches of school property.
Prom and Graduation Programs
Statistics indicate that alcohol-related peer pressure is strongest at prom time, due to the large number of parties in a short period. Because of the heightened attention paid to alcohol use during this period, the Phoenix Police Department, in cooperation with the local chapters of MADD and SADD, sponsors a number of educational assemblies, mock DUI crashes, and crash reenactments for students. Operation Prom in Hampton also encompasses after-prom activities, such as providing locations where supervised after-prom parties can be held.
In its own approach to this issue, the Hayward (California) Police Department works through the local Council for the Prevention of Drinking and Driving (a nonprofit organization). The Hayward department has also solicited the assistance of local florists and formal-wear businesses. Those establishments agreed to distribute a DUI prevention message with each corsage sold or tuxedo rented for the special occasions.
In most jurisdictions the prom and graduation season can run as long as eight weeks. The public and private sectors can use that window of opportunity to step up their DUI and alcohol-abuse public awareness campaigns. The local media play a pivotal role in both the public awareness and enforcement campaigns, which should be implemented simultaneously for maximum reinforcement during this special time in the school year.
Victim Impact Panels
Each of Albany County’s eight high schools has held victim impact panels composed of victims who have personal ties to the school, such as the mothers and siblings of drunk driving victims. The high school panels are held during prom season, and a police officer joins the panel to discuss the experience of death notification and its impact on both the officer’s and victim’s families.
It is difficult to measure the success of this type of approach, just as it is with most prevention programs. Many jurisdictions that find this approach effective have included as panel members not only innocent victims but also defendants. In some cases, defendants are required to participate in these DUI assemblies as part of their punishment.
Juvenile Court Education
In the juvenile court component of the Hayward-San Leandro Municipal Court District, officials have begun showing DUI prevention videotapes in the visitors’ area. These tapes play continuously while court is in session and are viewed by adults and juveniles waiting for cases to be heard or remaining in the building for other purposes. This approach may prove effective because the program is seen by a captive audience.
This is another example of a community uniting for a solution to its DUI problem. The cost of developing this innovative approach was borne by the Hayward Council for the Prevention of Drinking and Driving, which includes community leaders from the public and private sectors.