Teenage Drivers See Affects of Drinking & Driving Firsthand
December 5, 2006
Teen drivers are learning firsthand just how damaging “one stupid mistake” can be, especially when that stupid mistake is drinking and driving. Students in Anne Arundel County in Maryland participate in a twice yearly “Schools in the Courts” program, which is presented in partnership with the county District Court and The RESPECT Foundation. School officials believe the few hours the students spend in the courtroom just may be the most important schooling they receive in all of their high school years.
Now in its fifth year, the Schools in the Courts program brings students together for four hours in a courtroom, where they are talked to by guest speakers who generally are people involved in fatal drinking and driving accidents. They are also given the opportunity to view informational videos, such as a documentary following the lives of men and women who were convicted of drinking and driving as young adults, and how their lives unfolded from there. The District Court Judge narrates, and then changes into his robe and allows the young drivers to view justice taking place as suspects are brought through for their sentencing.
The students are reminded that they are in a high risk group for becoming offenders, and on the other side of the law. Statistics from 2005 showed that three in five teens drove too fast, three in five had trouble with aggressive drivers, one in five ran a stop sign, and two in five will be involved in an accident before they graduate high school. The sobering statistics show the importance that these teen drivers make smart decisions, putting themselves, their futures, and others out of harm’s way.
The Judge reminded these students that “one stupid mistake” has taken the lives of many, and will continue to do so, but that at this point in time, right now, they have the choice to make the right decisions and not regret having made that mistake. Those who are facing the consequences of drinking and driving wish they could take it back, erase the mark against their records, but it can’t be done. The lesson learned from Schools in the Courts is that mistake is just not worth it.