Archive for the ‘police’ Category

30 Year Veteran Metro Boston Transit Authority Bus Drunk Fired After He Crashed Bus While Driving Drunk

January 25, 2011
30 year veteran bus driver Metro Boston Transit Authority MBTA drunk drunken driving injured drug and alcohol policy operating under the influence of alcohol police blood alcohol level legal limit drinking bottle vodka drove drunk substance abuse problem Cleared2Drive system sober

Metro Boston Transit Authority Bus Driver McCarthy Drove his Bus Drunk

A 30year veteran bus driver for the Metro Boston Transit Authority (MBTA) who was accused of being drunk after he hit a car with his bus has been fired.  After he allegedly drove his bus into a car stopped at a traffic light in Somerville, John McCarthy, 61, was charged with drunken driving Friday , Transit Police said. The only passenger on the bus and the driver of the car were not injured.

In a letter dated Jan. 23, MBTA General Manager Richard Davey wrote that McCarthy was in violation of the authority’s drug and alcohol policy and had been immediately discharged from his position.  McCarthy was charged with operating under the influence of alcohol.  He was released on personal recognizance at his arraignment Monday.

Police said that after the crash, McCarthy could not stand up straight, had trouble speaking and smelled of alcohol which is understandable given that court documents revealed he had a blood alcohol concentration of .155 percent — almost twice the Massachusetts legal limit of .08 percent.  Even though a bottle of vodka was found in his jacket pocket, McCarthy told police he had not been drinking.  “There was nothing in his employee record to suggest a problem,” MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said.

Does anyone believe that this was the first time he drove the bus drunk?  If you do, I have some ocean front property in Oklahoma I would like to sell you.  When are the transit authorities going to wake up and smell the alcohol (literally)?  More than 10% of all Americans have a substance abuse problem.  Do they really think that bus drivers, taxi cab drivers, semi drivers, are all exempt?  For less than the price of a set of tires, they could install a Cleared2Drive system on each bus and be assured that ALL their drivers are driving sober ALL the time.

Treatment vs Jail: Portugal’s Success

January 5, 2011

drugs problem addicted arresting addiction illegal jail treatment counseling Portugal flag government addicts abuse drug-related court crime problem public health drug-using criminals ignition interlock device Cleared2Drive relapsing

The United States has been fighting the war on drugs for decades now and there seems to be no end in sight which bring to mind the old proverb about the definition of insanity – “Doing the same thing the same way and expecting a different result.’  Well I think it is time we start doing things differently and here is a good example of where we should start.

Big Risk, Big Reward

Ten years ago, Portugal had a big drug problem. 100,000 people, or about 1% of the population, were addicted to drugs. Portugal found itself in the never-ending cycle of arresting drug criminals, prosecuting them, and then after their sentence was complete finding them back on the streets again. It’s one of the main problems countries face when trying to end drug addiction and the crimes that so often are associated with it.

In 2000, Portugal passed a law that decriminalized the use of all illegal drugs. Drugs are still illegal in Portugal, but instead of throwing someone in possession of drugs to jail, it sends them to treatment or counseling. Portugal wrote it into law that anyone caught with illegal drugs instead of being charged with a criminal offense will go directly to a “Dissuasion Committee” for counseling and further treatment if necessary.

It’s not a new concept, but it is one that is difficult to carry out. How does a government take the first step and say that citizens aren’t going to get in trouble if they are caught with illegal drugs? Fears in Portugal were that everyone would go out and try drugs, and that the country would become full of addicts who were getting away with their drug abuse. But that hasn’t happened. In the last 10 years, Portugal has seen drug-related court cases drop 66%, the number of drug abusers has remained the same, and the number of people receiving treatment rose 20%. Most importantly, some of the country’s worst neighborhoods, once plagued with drug addicts and crime, have become safe.

Opponents

Some argue that policies like these are too soft on drug addicts, and without pressure and the threat of jail some people will never change, and for some people that is true. But only in countries that become lax when it comes to carrying out the law do they see an increase in drug users, but in countries like Portugal who have followed through with the treatment part of the plan, they have seen success. It works because they have changed the drug problem from a law enforcement issue to a public health issue which can be more openly managed.

Throwing a drug addict in jail does little good. We can expect 48% of substance abusing criminals to get caught using drugs again. However, if we can get these people the help they need to live a life without drugs, we can change their lives for good and we would encourage these countries to implement a mandatory ignition interlock device like Cleared2Drive program, which can prevent drugged or impaired driving as they too have proven very successful in keeping people from relapsing.

Wyoming is Unfortunately Losing their Battle Against Drunk Driving

December 19, 2010

intoxicated MADD Cleared2Drive dangers drunk driving drugged driving impaired driving Good2Gofatalities involving alcoholWyoming’s crash data suggests that drinking and driving contributes to more deaths and injuries on the road in the Cowboy State than safety advocates or any of the rest of us would like.  Of the 116 fatal crashes that happened in Wyoming in 2009, 55 people died because alcohol was a factor.  Of 3,361 injury crashes, 697 people were hurt because of alcohol.

Between 2005 and 2007, alcohol contributed to an average of 33% of the state’s highway fatalities, according to Wyoming’s 2009 Report on Traffic Crashes, released earlier this month. In 2008, that went up to 50%, and in 2009 it was 41%. While an odd year can really skew the numbers in a sparsely populated state like Wyoming, the five-year average for percentage of fatalities involving alcohol is 38.  According to Dee West Peterson, State Coordinator for Highway Safety at the Wyoming Department of Transportation which puts out the above report, “We’re not winning this battle”.

Too often, people think they can make it home safely when they are intoxicated, said Debbie Taylor, a MADD volunteer in Casper.”I do believe it is a cultural change that needs to take place,” she said and all of us at Cleared2Drive couldn’t agree more.  As we have stated many times, we have been educating people of the dangers of drunk driving for close to 30 years now and unfortunately many have not gotten the message.  It is going to take much more than education and the possibility of some sort of punishment to eradicate drunk driving or drugged driving or  impaired driving or whatever you want to call it in Wyoming or any other state.

Drug-related crashes up in Florida

December 17, 2010

National Highway Transportation Safety Administration NHTSA illegal drugs pharmaceuticals tested positive illicit drug criminal offense fatalities New Year's Day holiday drive impaired Cleared2Drive Good2GoIs anyone surprised that the number of drug-related traffic crashes is rising in Florida given that they are the nation’s prescription drug capital?  Yes, it is nice that as the holiday season gets under way the state is ratcheting up its efforts against drunk and drugged driving, but let’s be honest here folks, Florida’s impaired driving problem isn’t going to go away just because we ring in a new year.

Over the holidays the Florida Highway Patrol says it is launching a new crackdown on impaired drivers (glad to see they are now starting to focus on impaired driving as opposed to just drunk driving) as the numbers show there’s a real need for it.  The latest statistics show drug-related crashes and injuries are up more than 10% in Florida, according to Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp. “Drug-related crashes increased by nearly 11% and drug-related injuries by more than 19%. These are numbers that we cannot ignore.” When you include drunk driving, the problem is even worse. Alcohol and drugs were factors in 44% of the more than 2,500 fatal crashes last year.

According to Bruce Grant, Director of Florida’s Office of Drug Control, driving at night on weekends is even riskier.  He sights a national survey by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) showing that a lot of drivers are using illegal drugs or pharmaceuticals on weekend nights.  “One in eight nighttime weekend drivers tested positive for an illicit drug. That number rises to one out of every six when you include not only illicit drugs but also pharmaceuticals.”

Grant says 17 other states make it a criminal offense to drive while using an illegal drug and he is urging Florida lawmakers to adopt a similar law.  “I think it’s time for Florida to seriously consider adopting a version of this so that we stop the increase that we see in drugged driving and prevent these crashes from becoming fatalities.” In my humble opinion, Florida should have been leading the charge on this one!

Over the New Year’s Day holiday in 2009, Florida experienced a record high fatality rate.  Police say DUI/DWI crashes killed 34 people over the four-day period.  Now with another New Year’s holiday fast approaching, Kottkamp is urging Floridians not to drive impaired this holiday season. “I would encourage all Floridians to be responsible and make good decisions, decisions that can make all live a better life.”

Yes, it good to “encourage” people to be responsible and not drive impaired, but when they can’t do it on their own, take comfort knowing Cleared2Drive can do it for them.

Drug Prescriptions Double for Teens and Young Adults Compared to 15 Years Ago

December 13, 2010

Cleared2Drive Good2Go drunk driving impaired driving  Breathalyzers Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) ignition interlock device Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Drunk DrivingTwice as many teens and young adults are getting prescriptions for controlled substances than had been 15 years ago, Reuters reported Nov. 29.

Investigators led by Robert J. Fortuna, MD, of the University of Rochester’s Strong Children’s Research Center in New York, assessed U.S. prescription trends for 15- to 29-year-olds based on 2007 survey data from more than 8,000 physicians, clinics, and emergency departments. They then compared results with similar data from 1994. Analysis revealed that more than 11 percent of teenagers received prescriptions for controlled medications (including Oxycontin, Vicodin, Ritalin, and sedatives) in 2007, up from 6 percent in 1994. A similar trend was seen for young adults, where the prescription rate for such drugs rose from 8 to 16 percent over the same time period.

As noted by Fortuna, the rise does not necessarily mean the drugs are being diverted or abused. However, teenagers and college students are much more likely than adults to use prescription drugs recreationally and to pass them on to others. “Physicians need to have open discussions with patients about the risks and benefits of using controlled medications, including the potential for misuse and diversion,” he said. “The nonmedical use of prescription drugs by adolescents and young adults has surpassed all illicit drugs except marijuana,” concluded the authors. “This trend and its relationship to misuse of medications warrants further study.” The article was published online Nov. 29 in the journal Pediatrics.

Studies like this reinforces what we at Cleared2Drive have been saying, we need to stop focusing on ways to eradicate “drunk driving” and focus on what is truly happening in our society which means we need to focus our efforts on eradicating “impaired driving.”  Breathalyzers and all the effort that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety(IIHS) is putting into developing their Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) technology will do nothing to stop someone under the influence of illicit drugs or prescription drugs (better known as  drugged driving) from operating a vehicle but Cleared2Drive’s ignition interlock device (IID) that is based upon their internationally patented Impairment Detection Technology will. Even Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) now admits that we need to stop focusing solely on “Drunk Driving” and put our efforts behind stopping “Impaired Driving”.

Oregon’s Young Adults has Highest Rate Nationally in Painkiller Abuse

December 12, 2010

deaths injuries drugs motor vehicle accidents drugs marijuana epidemic Attorney General driving under the influence of prescription drugs Cleared2Drive Good2GoWhile Oregon ranks 5th nationally for prescription painkiller abuse according to federal officials, it has the highest rate in the country among 18 to 25-year-olds.  The national survey found it’s mostly dentists who are prescribing painkillers to the 15 to 19-year-olds, an age group that has not fully developed the part of their brain that regulates inhibitory control, said Tom Condon of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.  Those figures were among the numbers presented at a drug abuse prevention summit in Portland that brought together state and federal officials, physicians, pharmacists and law enforcement.

Data from 2007 showed that in 16 states and the District of Columbia, there are more deaths and injuries from drugs than motor vehicle accidents, which has for years been the leading cause of death for teenagers.  This is really scary stuff, people!

A 2009 national survey of drug abuse indicated prescription drugs outpaced marijuana in 2008 and 2009 as the first drug used by people 12 and older with a majority of those users obtained the prescription pills from somebody they knew.

“This says we sure are in the middle of an epidemic,” Condon said, speaking to a group that included Gov. Ted Kulongoski, Oregon Attorney General John Kroger and U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton, who organized the meeting.

But I don’t agree.  I don’t believe we are in the “middle” of the epidemic – and I base that on the conversations we have with our customers – I would say it more like we are still in in the “early stages.”  People still have their heads in the sand about prescription drug abuse and especially when it comes to driving under the influence of prescription drugs.  Most people are fully aware of the “notices’ on the pill bottle about NOT driving, but most just ignore them for whatever reason.  However, Cleared2Drive’s algorithms don’t ignore them.

Congratulations Mississippi Highway Patrol!

December 5, 2010

Mississippi Highway Patrol State Troopers DUI arrests law enforcement agencies drunk driving related deaths Public safety commissioner holidays reducing alcohol-related accidents Cleared2Drive Good2Go ignition interlock device impaired driving drunk driving under the influence arrested Good news for the state of Mississippi. In the past several years, DUI arrests have sky-rocketed which has resulted in the lowest number of drunk driving related deaths in decades.

The Mississippi Highway Patrol attributes the surge in DUI- arrests to law enforcement agencies all over the state becoming more involved.

Public safety commissioner Steve Simpson says the  MHP “blitz periods” during the holidays aimed at reducing alcohol-related accidents have been extremely successful.

Cleared2Drive salutes all of the members of the Mississippi Highway Patrol!

Drug use found in 33% of drivers killed

December 2, 2010

drug-test results National District Attorneys Association illegal substances cocaine Don Egdorf Houston Police Department DWI task force abuse prescription drugs David Strickland NHTSA Good2GoAccording to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) just released report, 1/3 of all drug tests on drivers killed in motor vehicle accidents came back positive for drugs ranging anywhere from hallucinogens to prescription painkillers last year.

The report, the agency’s first analysis of drug use in traffic crashes, showed a 5-percentage-point increase in the number of tested drivers found to have drugs in their systems since 2005. The increase coincided with more drivers being tested for drugs, the report shows.

Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said the numbers are “alarmingly high” and called for more states to address the problem of driving and drug use. Seventeen states have some form of such laws, according to NHTSA: Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.  Obviously more need them.

Although much research has been done on alcohol’s effects on driving, little has been done on the impact of drugs on driving, researchers say. The NHTSA analysis doesn’t address whether the drugs were at levels that would impair driving because right now there isn’t a standardized test. What they need is a system like Cleared2Drive, one that detects impairment not arbitrary levels in a person’s blood.

Jim Lavine, the president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said drug-test results don’t always pinpoint when the person took the drug: It could have been days or weeks ago.  Again, another reason to focus solely on impairment detection.

The lack of research presents a problem for lawmakers, adds Scott Burns, executive director of the National District Attorneys Association. “With respect to illegal substances, the answer seems fairly easy: ‘You can’t drive with cocaine on board,’ ” he says. “The tougher question becomes, ‘What do you do with prescription drugs?’ ”

Don Egdorf of the Houston Police Department’s DWI task force says many people abuse prescription drugs. “If you have tooth pain, they give you Vicodin. You might develop a tolerance,” he said. “You might end up taking two instead of one.”

David Strickland of NHTSA recommends better state records of crashes involving prescription drugs.  While record keeping is important, shouldn’t our main focus be on prevention?

Cleared2Drive anyone?

Drugged Driving Increasing

December 1, 2010

With prescription drug abuse a growing problem in the state and nation, it’s no surprise police are seeing a result on roadways. “We’re getting pounded by painkillers,” said Cpl. Chad Blankinchip, an instructor at the Alabama Criminal Justice Training Center in Selma. “Marijuana is still the most common because people think it’s undetectable, but painkillers are right up there with it.”

However, the upside in the battle against drugged drivers is Alabama is one of 46 states that participate in the nationally recognized Drug Recognition Expert, or DRE, program. State troopers as well as some police and sheriff’s departments around the state use the trained experts.

DRE experts are training to conduct a series of tests on the suspect permitting them to serve as an expert witness when discussing the driver’s impairment in court.

Blankinchip said after a traffic stop is made, a field sobriety test is given followed by a breath test. If the level doesn’t measure for alcohol, a further evaluation is performed for drug impairment, including pulse checks, checks of vital signs and pupil dilation. The trained officer also looks for injection sites on the body of the suspect and takes statements. Finally, the suspect goes to the hospital for toxicity screening. It can take an hour or longer to charge an individual with drug-related DUI.  “That’s a drawback and a concern because there’s really nothing that can be done to speed up the process right now,” Blankinchip said.

Rogersville, Alabama Police Chief Terry Holden said he’s seeing more cases of drug DUIs.  “We see as many DUI drug cases as we do alcohol,” Holden said. “Five years ago, you just didn’t have that much.”

Town Creek Police Chief Jerry Garrett said the only test an officer can give for drugs is field sobriety, but there are definite differences between someone impaired from alcohol and drugs. “The biggest thing is their speech,” Garrett said. “They talk with a thick tongue, and speech is impaired worse than with alcohol usually.” He said his last few DUI cases have been for controlled substances. “The problem is you can’t walk up and smell it like you can marijuana or alcohol,” he said. “Officers have to pay close attention to the drivers. A sobriety test can only go so far. One of the biggest arguments I hear from suspects of drug DUI is, ‘I have a prescription for it.’ ”

While Garrett said people are smarter about (refraining from) drinking and driving, “they’re not using their brains at all when it comes to popping pills and getting behind the wheel of a car.”

Tony Faulkner, community marketing representative for Bradford Health Services, routinely deals with individuals referred from the courts after DUIs. There’s been a definite increase in those cases with the biggest growth in prescription pills. “I always say that most addicts are dyslexic when it comes to taking pills,” Faulkner said. “Instead of taking one every four to six hours, they take four to six pills every hour.”

Blankinchip said as long a prescription pills are so readily available, “the problem will just continue to grow.”  And, for loved ones of those that continue to abuse drugs, the only safe guard is a Cleared2Drive system in every vehicle.

How to Prevent College and Underage Binge Drinking

November 30, 2010

The best way to combat the issue of excessive college drinking is to educate college students more about the issues and consequences of drinking. As stated before, many college students will observe others and attempt to model their drinking habits after what they see their peers doing. If student B sees student A drinking excessively, he will more than likely follow the same actions. Student C will follow student B’s lead, student D will follow student C’s lead, and soon a cycle that is difficult to break out of will form.

College Drinking

In “College Drinking:  reforming a social problem”, Dowdall talks about the image of college drinking. He mentions a legendary picture of John Belushi from the 1978 movie Animal House. In that picture Belushi is wearing a sweatshirt that says “College” and holding an empty bottle of Jack Daniels. The picture, as well as the movie, represents underage college drinking as a game. It was after the release of that movie that activities such as “ pre-gaming” (drinking a lot of alcohol over a short period of time prior to going out) and drinking games became more prevalent.

An article in Alcohol Research and Health pointed to several solutions, including peer refusal and family involvement. The magazine pointed that most pressure for young adults to drink comes from peer and family, so positive reinforcements in both areas will only help the situation.

Other research concurs that parental reinforcement will help with the problem. Buffalo News reported that parents need to start teaching their kids about alcohol misuse and abuse at a young age. Alcohol is a legal psychoactive drug that affects parts of the brain, and drinking while the brain is still developing could lead to physiologic and psychological damage. Parents also need to teach teens about “alcohol over dosage,” which include signs such as vomiting, cold and clammy skin, shallow breathing and unresponsiveness.

College students learn by observing. By instilling good values and morals in a young adult before they leave for college, there is a better chance the student will handle alcohol responsibly. But let’s not be blind or hide our head in the sand.  If you even think that your child might be drinking, start drinking, or could succumb to peer influence to drink, then installation of a Cleared2Drive would certainly be wise.

For college students two of the best ways to help prevent excessive drinking are parental involvement and peer guidance.  For parents, installation of a Cleared2Drive System provides the much appreciated Peace of Mind.