Students See What Can Happen When Drinking, Using Phone And Driving
Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 22, 2014
Luke Pratapas walked around the football field at Davie High School Friday afternoon in a daze. He was looking for his cell phone.
Nearby, someone was moaning from a wrecked car. “I can’t feel my legs.”
Near his feet, one of his friends was dead.
Still, he was searching for his phone.
It was a mock disaster, organized by Davie Sheriff’s Lt. Brian Jacobs to show students what could happen if they drink and drive, or if they use their cell phone and drive.
Members of the N.C. Highway Patrol, Mocksville Police, Davie EMS, Davie Rescue Squad and AirCare from Baptist Medical Center took part in the program.
After the rescued squad freed one victim from a car, after EMS had them loaded on stretchers, after AirCare had arrived for a critical patient, and after officers had handcuffed and arrested the guilty driver, local attorney Rob Raisbeck told the students what they had seen happens regularly.
“It’s astounding to me that people still drive drunk because sometimes people get hurt, people get killed.”
He handles many DWI cases, some for alcohol, some for illegal drugs and about a third for prescription medications. “Xanax, Zoloft … you can be convicted of DWI on those.”
He described what happens to a driver under the age of 21 when convicted of DWI. You lose your license for a year. You have to perform community service work, usually at least 24 hours. Fines range from $500 to thousands of dollars. You must take a substance abuse assessment and comply with any recommendations. You must attend driving classes. You have to pay for all of the above. You could go to jail.
Insurance rates for your vehicle go up 400 percent for three years.
“And you’re going to have to come and see me, and I don’t work for free,” Raisbeck said.
Even after all of that, the worst punishment may be inside your own head. “You will have to live with the consequences of your actions for the rest of your life. You will have a criminal record. The bottom line is don’t drink and drive.”
He pointed out that if there is someone under age 18 in your vehicle and you are convicted of DWI, jail time is mandatory.
Magistrate Kevin Hendrix said his job is to determine the bond or if you go to jail immediately. In a case such as the mock wreck, a second-degree murder charge would be likely.
“These charges follow you around for the rest of your life … even a DWI charge.”
While a .08 blood alcohol level is considered as being impaired in North Carolina, if you are under age 21, even registering a .01 will mean you lose your driver’s license for a year. Insurance rates will increase.
“It makes me wonder if it’s worth that one drink,” Hendrix said. “This whole experiment is to plant that one thought in your head – is it worth it?
“Don’t make any of us to our jobs. I don’t lose sleep at night if I have to have you locked up.”
Sheriff Andy Stokes said teen-agers suffer one of the highest mortality rates – mainly from auto crashes caused by driving too fast, drinking and driving, texting or using a cell phone while driving.
“You are deliberately making these choices,” Stokes said. “You’re not bullet proof. You’re not invulnerable. You’re a blessing to your family … to your community.
“Be young, be foolish, be happy … but make good choices. I want to see you here next year,” Stokes said.