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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Students ‘drive drunk’

    Wearing goggles that simulate drunken vision, criminal justice sophomore Gybrielle Demaree plows a cone while running the drunken golf cart obstacle course with Tucson Police Department Officer Corie Nolan yesterday afternoon during an event on the UA Mall. The event was held so that police could advise students on proper and safe behavior for spring break.
    Wearing goggles that simulate drunken vision, criminal justice sophomore Gybrielle Demaree plows a cone while running the drunken golf cart obstacle course with Tucson Police Department Officer Corie Nolan yesterday afternoon during an event on the UA Mall. The event was held so that police could advise students on proper and safe behavior for spring break.

    Students stumbled around and drove erratically on the UA Mall yesterday as part of a program that encourages students to act responsibly during spring break.

    “”We asked folks from inside and out of the university to this event, focusing on safety and healthy behaviors,”” said Anthony Skevakis, program coordinator with the Dean of Students Office. “”We try to incorporate things that happen on spring break that are not related to alcohol also, like sexual awareness and skin care.””

    Wearing “”drunk goggles,”” which were set at an intoxication level of .07 – just below the legal limit – students attempted to drive a golf cart in an obstacle course that was lined with 53 cones.

    “”The number 53 is symbolic because in police lingo it translates to a fatal crash,”” said Terry McCarthy, a DUI officer with the Tucson Police Department. “”We started this program in the year 2000 hoping that we could reduce the number of fatalities that involve alcohol.””

    Heidi Howe, a psychology senior who is going to Palm Springs for spring break, tried her luck at navigating the obstacle course while wearing the drunk goggles.

    “”I think I hit every other cone,”” she said with a laugh. “”It’s good to see what it’s like so that you can be prepared.””

    Many students travel to destinations in Mexico during spring break, so James Bredeck, vice-consulate to the U.S. Consulate in Nogales, Mexico, was on hand to answer questions and provide brochures with phone numbers students can call if they find themselves in trouble while south of the border.

    “”The key here is that we try to be proactive and get safety messages across to students while at the same time letting them know how to reach us,”” Bredeck said. “”Sometimes, people just need a reminder not to do things in Mexico that you wouldn’t do here and to not leave their common sense behind when they cross the border.””

    The event is sponsored both by strategic alliance grants, which come from a company called IKON, and by the Residence Hall Association, which originally held the event in Sky View Apartments, Skevakis said.

    Students were also able to participate in DUI tests, and free condoms and sunscreen were available. Police officers and counselors answered questions, along with organizations including Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Arizona Department of Liquor for Pima County and the Student Health Advisory Council.

    “”There are so many things that students don’t think about when they go on vacation,”” said Anthony Valenzuela, an officer with the University of Arizona Police Department. “”For example, prescription medicine should be carried in their original bottle. A lot of students don’t know that and get detained because authorities think they are trying to smuggle something in.””

    With heightened security laws that make traveling across the border more difficult, Valenzuela said he hopes that students understand they may need a passport for both entering and returning from Mexico.

    If you are unsure whether you need a passport for your trip, see the federal guidelines at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cbpmc/cbpmc_2223.html.

    Ming-Min Lee, a graduate student studying entomology who will be traveling to Rocky Point, Mexico, for spring break, said she thinks the event helps raise awareness on issues students will encounter while traveling.

    “”I think this can help students,”” Lee said. “”Who knows what kind of sticky situation you can get in when you’re drunk.””

    For McCarthy, who has been at the scene of many alcohol-related fatalities, the event hits close to home.

    “”I truly believe that if we do enough of these demonstrations that maybe we will get somewhere,”” he said. “”If we can get one person who won’t drive drunk because of this, it is a successful day.””

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