High school students get to see what happens when driving while under the influence of alcohol. Wasn’t pretty.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, on  December 7, 2011  – Nelson High School students – all 1500 of them were in the hands of the Halton Regional Police for a good part of Tuesday morning.  They were being taken through some “experiential training” on what happens to a person when their drinking has gone over the legal limit.

The experience was a bit of a shock to many of them.

This is the one thing you do not want to see should you be pulled over by the police. The smile on Cst. Mike Korda is nice enough - but that little grey box is not good news. If you don't drink and drive Korda will be your buddy.

Halton Regional Police have been attending at Halton high schools and showing students what breathing into the breathalyzer was all about; what happens to their bodies when they have consumed alcohol and are asked by a police officer to step out of the car and attempt to walk in a straight line and then to write a short quiz on what the rules are when it comes to drinking and driving.

Many of the parents of these students can remember a day when it was very common to say to a guest at a house party to “have one for the road” which meant you threw back a drink, thumped your chest and got behind the wheel.

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) brought a very painful and realistic look to what happens when people drink and drive and as a result of their efforts we see programs like the one at Nelson High School.

HRPS Cst. Mark Vegso holds the "Fatal Vision" goggles students at Nelson High experimented with earlier this week. It was a strong lesson.

Each year the Halton Regional Police roll out their RIDE program – this year HRPS arrested three people for drunk driving on the first day of the program.  Seems like we have some distance to go yet before we rid ourselves of this menace.

The police take their rotating RIDE crews around the Region and stop traffic, ask drivers if they have been drinking, and if they suspect any use of alcohol they invite the driver to breathe into the little grey box and see if they can walk a straight line.

If the driver can’t – their car is impounded and they get taken to the police station.

Cst. Mark Vegso is one of the Regional police officers who is assigned to a high school, in his case it is a school in Oakville, where he handles small discipline situations, trespass problems and is in the school regularly to keep an eye on things and to also serve as a contact for students who want to talk to a police officer but don’t want to go to a police station.  Cst. Vegso also teach some law classes in the school.

Failure to provide a breath sample is also a criminal offence.  The police officers doing the training make the experience very, very realistic – there is little doubt in the mind of the student just what they are being asked to do and why.  Many of the students must have walked away from the breathalyzer table shuddering with the thought if they are ever asked to blow into the little grey box – they are in serious trouble.  The objective is that hopefully they will look for a lift before getting behind a wheel if they’ve been drinking.

The goggles used to experience what it is like to be asked to walk a straight line with alcohol in your body.  The goggles, which are made in Mexico and referred to as “Fatal Vision” goggles cost $1000. each.  But they do the job.

Staying on that green light with goggles that simulated an alcohol level over 70 was not quite as easy as this young lady thought it was going to be.

The students found that they could not walk a straight line – more frightening to all of them was that they couldn’t really see the line – it was just a blur and kept moving out of their field of vision.  The goggles used to simulate a situation where the user was slightly under the legal limit resulted in a scary experience.  The goggles used to simulate situations where the user was well over the limit – like 2.0 and up – made it very clear that driving with that much alcohol in you would result in your death or that of someone else you ran into.  And there was no doubt – you could not operate a car effectively or safely with that much alcohol in your system.  It was a pretty blunt message.

One wonders what these students said to each other as they gathered in the cafeteria for lunch with their lap tops open in front of them.  The Regional police  wondered and at the end of the training sessions – they left hoping they’d done the job.

Part of the training session included a quick quiz on drinking and driving.  Test results and more on the RIDE program are at: http://www.burlingtongazette.ca/?p=5937

 

1: The legal limit of alcohol to be present in your blood while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle is 100.  T/F

2: The legal limit for a G1 or G2 driver is 50.  T/F

3: A person can be charged with impaired driving after smoking marijuana.  T/F

4: It is acceptable for open alcohol to be inside your car. T/F

5: It is not a criminal offence to be intoxicated in the driver’s seat.. T/F

Friends look on a Nelson High student tries to keep his feet on the green line while using "driving under the influence of alcohol testing goggles".

6: G drivers who are accompanying G! drivers can be intoxicated while in the passenger seat. T/F

7: A person charged with Over 80 must always be charged with Impaired Driving. T/F

8: A person can refuse to provide a legally demanded breath sample and not be charged for refusing to provide a breath sample. T/F

Nelson High students write the ten question quick quiz. How would you have done with the test? Try it.

9: Upon being charged with Refusal or Over 80, a person’s driver’s licence shall be suspended for a period of 30 days. T/F

10: A police officer shall read you your rights to counsel upon arrest for Over 80. T/F

 

Being charged with any kind of a drinking related offence and found guilty will impact your driver’s licence – which is nothing compared to what it is going to do to your insurance rate.  While you may be allowed eventually to drive again – you may not be able to afford to – and if the car you were driving belonged to your  parents – they are not going to be very sympathetic.

Drinking is not a crime – just do so responsibly.

 

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