It’s the Day Before Thanksgiving – Beware “Blackout Wednesday”

day-before-thanksgiving-is-blackout-wednesdayThanksgiving doesn’t usually come to mind when we think of holidays and drunk driving. New Year’s Eve and July 4th Weekend, and perhaps Memorial Day weekend, are considered the times one is likely to encounter an impaired driver on the road. But the fact is, Thanksgiving is a more dangerous time to drive. And it has an added threat: today – the day before Thanksgiving – known as Blackout Wednesday.

It’s not a family holiday – more a celebration time for college students and other young people who are headed for a four-day break. Some bars rate Blackout Wednesday as the biggest night for parties in the year.  It has become associated with binge drinking: bars gear up for the night by laying on extra stocks of booze, by hosting special events, and, if they are conscientious, by posting information to help drunk customers get home by taxi.

Binge drinking, by the way, is defined as five or more drinks in a sitting for men, and four for women.

One reason that heavy drinking is more likely tonight is that students have arrived home, and are generally free of responsibilities for a few days. It’s also a chance to see relatives and old friends that one hasn’t seen all semester. Some of the students have just reached legal drinking age. The result is an attempt to make up for drinking times lost. Four days, they feel, gives them plenty of time to sober up.

And from that drinking comes an increase in drunk driving. You might know that Thanksgiving signals the beginning of the most dangerous season on the roads. From then alcohol-related crash numbers stay high until New Year’s Day.

If you are coming home for the holidays, have a great time. Enjoy these days with your family and friends, fill up on food, and yes, enjoy your drinks. But do these as well:

  • Plan your night tonight. It could be as easy as taking a taxi to the bar instead of driving, so you’ll have to do the same when coming home. Alternatively:
  • Have a designated driver with you. Or:
  • Have a non-drinking friend drop you at the bar and pick you up later. If need be, promise to return the favor.
  • Watch out on the roads. Not everyone will have read this and taken the words to heart. And above all:
  • Don’t let a friend drive drive drunk. Take their keys. Or call them a taxi.

And remember that for you, the most dangerous day of the year is the one when you choose to drink and drive.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Man Writes Police Officer an Amazing Letter – It Says “Thank You for My DUI Arrest”


(click to enlarge) Image: Tyrone Police Department)

After a DUI arrest, offenders tend to have one of two reactions. Either they say, “I made a mistake” or they say, “Why are they picking on me?”

A Georgia man chose a different, and much more revealing response. The Tyrone, Georgia Police Department received a letter from a DUI offender who wished to thank his arresting officer, Sergeant Jacob Collins, for booking him on a drunk driving charge after he miscalculated a turn and drove off the road.

The unnamed driver felt the note was necessary because of the many accusations in the press about the use of excessive force  by police officers. He wanted the officers to know that their work was appreciated by many, even if it didn’t capture the attention of news networks in this day and age.

I write to express my thanks and gratitude to Officer Jacob Collins.

Officer Collins pulled me over on Highway 74 during the morning of July 31, 2015.  I was severely intoxicated. He saved my life and the lives of others, and I truly appreciate his actions and his efforts.

The Chief at the police station stated that no offender had written a thank-you letter before. Police often get notes from grateful victims and other citizens, as well as organizations, but a note from an offender after a DUI arrest was a first.

I do not like being on probation, and I do not enjoy paying a series of fines, fees and insurance hikes; however I am grateful to be alive.

thank-you-for-dui-arrest-georgiaGeorgia sees some 25,000 drunk driving arrests each year. Almost all of them take a drunk driver off the road, at least for a day, and many for much longer. Some of those arrests are wake-up calls which lead problem drinkers to confront their issues. Others result in an ignition interlock, which at least prevents them from reoffending for a period of time, and enables them to drive to work and also to treatment or counseling.

Offenders have been helped as a result of these arrests, probably as much as society has. And until now, not one thank you.

We salute the author of this letter for his honesty and perceptiveness, and we wish him well.

MADD Honors Legislators Who Got It Right in 2015

A great deal of what Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) does involves bringing legislators around to their point of view – that drunk driving is a preventable crime, and enlightened laws are one of the ways to prevent it.


Massachusetts State Senator James Timilty Receives award from MADD Program Manager Mary Kate DePamphilis (photo:

Recently MADD presented its Legislator of the Year Awards to those lawmakers who have done the most to make the nation’s roadways safer by advocating ignition interlocks and other measures to take drunk drivers off the roads. All in all, 70 senators and representatives received commendations for their work. Among them:


This year Texas became the 25th state to require all DUI offenders to use ignition interlocks. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. The honorees included representatives Jason Villalba and Senfronia Thompson, Speaker Joe Straus and Senator Joan Huffman. All-offender interlock laws are considered one of the vital elements of a state’s anti-drunk driving program.


Thanks in part to the work of Representative Dennis Keene and Senator Morgan McGarvey, repeat DUI offenders and certain other offenders (such as child endangerment and high-blood-alcohol) in Kentucky must now have ignition interlocks installed in their vehicles.


MADD honored Iowa Representative Sandy Salmon, whose bill – HB 186 – which would create an all-offender interlock law in her state.


legislator-of-the-year-MADD-awardFour counties in California are running a crucial ignition interlock pilot program. Senator Jerry Hill wrote a bill which extends the pilot program until July 2017. Hopes are high that the whole state will follow suit once the pilot proves its effectiveness.

All in all, there were 70 lawmakers honored from more than 20 states. Our thanks to these champions of road safety, and to MADD for giving them the shout-out they deserve.

Harrowing Texas Anti Drunk Driving PSA Receives Telly Award

A police deputy in Lubbock, Texas experienced most people’s worst nightmare. Now some good has come of it.

Scott Duncan was driving on FM-1585 (a farm-to-market road) when a drunk driver hit him head on. From the time the car appeared until the crash, Duncan had less than three seconds to act. The dashcam captured the terrible moment.

Duncan survived, and decided to put his horrendous experience to work in a public service ad, so that others could learn how dangerous and destructive – and frightening – drunk drivers are . With the Owen Group he created an Anti Drunk Driving PSA. It reminds us that buzzed driving is drunk driving, or as they put it, if you feel drunk you are drunk. More to the point, it shows in no uncertain terms what happens when people can’t control their cars.

While we take issue with the use of the word “accident” – drunk driving collisions are the result of a bad decision, and are therefore not accidental – the video does do a great job of encapsulating the blood-chilling horror of seeing a car hurtle toward you. This is reality television at its most potent. Watch for yourself.The PSA won a 2014 Telly Award. The Telly Awards honor outstanding television film and video commercials and programs. The award, given in 2014, was presented last week.

SoundJamz Pearland Texas

Pearland Texas Ignition Interlock Center: SoundJamz

SoundJamz Pearland Texas

SoundJamz of Pearland Texas joins LifeSafer’s network of ignition interlock centers!

LifeSafer welcomes SoundJamz in Pearland Texas into our nation wide network of ignition interlock installation and service centers!

SoundJamz was founded in 1989, and was owned and operated by Mr. Rick Lillard until 2013. Rick on the beginnings of SoundJamz: “We sold pager and cellular accessories, and as the paging business slowed down, we started doing stereo systems – after all, it had been a hobby of mine for years. I competed at the professional level, winning state championships, and world finals. I competed in car audio, winning 1st place in 168 competitions. When we do a car, we do it right the first time, and have very, very few comebacks.”

Now owned and operated by Steve Perez, SoundJamz continues the tradition of superior service that was started by Rick. Steve Perez says: “Rick Lillard built a name and reputation of being one of the best audio builders of his time. After many years of great service and outstanding builds, he retired due to health issues. Not wanting to see the name he built fade away, he gave me the chance to build the name back. In December of 2013, I decided to follow in his foot steps. We now offer many more services, have brought in a great staff, and look for better ways to serve your automotive needs.

SoundJamz is more than a radio shop: they offer window tinting, car alarms and installation, custom wheels, drop/lift kits, underglow lighting, embedded headrest TV monitors, and back seat TV flip-down screens. And of course, they are our LifeSafer certified ignition interlock installation and service center in Pearland Texas.

Call 800-993-4990 to book your ignition interlock installation now!

“This place was great. They installed my subs exactly as I requested and even hid the cord to my cop radar better. These guys go above and beyond to give you the service you deserve. My ten inch Kickers sound great and I have already received lots of compliments on my system. Definitely referring this place to my friends.”
~ Michael S. – Yelp Review – 5 Stars

Learn more about SoundJamz in Pearland Texas »

The SoundJamz shop is located at 4509 Cherry Street Pearland Texas 77581, just as Cherry Street forks off Broadway – you’ll pass Hope Church and the Midas muffler shop on Broadway Street. SoundJamz specializes in all types of automotive customizations in addition to being a LifeSafer certified car breathalyzer installation and service center.

Welcome to the LifeSafer team!

Mississippi Lawmakers Make Promise to Get State’s DUI Act Together

Mississippi has a couple of serious problems in the fight against drunk driving. Last week legislators made a promise that they would deal with both of them.

Problem 1: Poor information sharing

The law and the courts make a large distinction between a first and a repeat DUI offender, and they are correct. Judges need to know whether they are dealing with a person who made one foolish choice, or one who shows a persistent disregard for drunk driving laws. About a third of those arrested for DUI are repeat offenders. Such offenders are also disproportionately involved in alcohol-related crashes.

mississippi drunk driving laws to be improvedMississippi’s problem is that they don’t always know who is a repeat offender. Up to now, they have done a poor job of sharing information across counties. So a driver picked up for DUI might get off lightly because no one can dig up his or her prior offenses in another part of the state.

The means to share DUI arrest information, not just with the rest of the state but with the country, already exists. Officers need to be trained in using the database technology, and as of last week, legislators have promised to ensure that every county and court has access to all the DUI information from other jurisdictions.

Problem 2: Plea bargaining

In quite a few states drunk driving is prosecuted as such, with no means of escaping the charge. Not so in Mississippi, where all too often the charge is reduced to reckless driving. This means that if the offender gets another DUI it will not count as a second offense.

Solution 1: Ignition interlocks

Another item on the agenda is whether or not to get tougher on first-time DUI offenders. One measure being considered is the requirement to have an ignition interlock for six months. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

Right now half the states in the country do require ignition interlocks for all drunk drivers, as a way to prevent recidivism.  Let’s hope that legislators in Mississippi keep their promise to address the two problems now in discussion. If they do that, and also pass a stronger ignition interlock law, they’ll see the results of their actions on roads and streets across the state.

New Ad Council “Party Foul” Anti Drunk Driving Ad Is … Well …

Your audience might be young. They might even do dumb things. But they are not dumb. This is a good thing to remember when putting together an anti-drunk-driving campaign.

The Ad Council has been responsible for some wonderful campaigns – in the U.S. the campaign against drunk driving has been accompanied and abetted by many ads which offered increasingly sophisticated ways to look at the problem. Now there’s this:

Created by Merkley+Partners, “Party Foul” might as well be a demo on how not to reach your target market: find a current slang expression and employ it in a clumsy, obvious commercial that will win over no one.  Be sure to overdo the slapstick so it doesn’t even seem realistic, because teens respond to that, right?

No one said this job was easy. Too many young people drink and drive, and nothing seems to get through to them. We recently found out that teens who don’t drink and drive are still likely to ride with another impaired driver. The highest percentage of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes are drivers between 21 and 24.

But a problem this serious deserves serious thinking, and ads that engage, and don’t insult, the intelligence of their intended audience.

Q and A on Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program Expansion: Why It’s the Right Move

larry_hoganToday’s topic is public safety, and the news from Maryland is good: Governor Larry Hogan has introduced a change which will make the roads safer by expanding the state’s ignition interlock program.

What is an ignition interlock?

An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, is a device which prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. If a driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) high enough (usually around .02) the device cuts off current to the vehicle’s starter. Data on the passed and failed breath tests are sent to monitoring authorities.

What is the current law?

Maryland drivers who are arrested for impaired driving with a BAC of .15 or higher have their license suspended immediately. However, they can opt in to the state’s ignition interlock program if they want to keep driving before their trial.

What will change?

Governor Hogan wants all impaired drivers – those with a BAC of .08 or above – to have the option of using the device, not just those who were arrested for extreme impairment..

Why are the new rules better?

Not many people realize that license suspensions are one of the most ineffective weapons in the law’s arsenal. Some fifty to seventy-five percent of drivers who are suspended will continue to drive. And if they are in the habit of driving drunk, innocent people are endangered.  An ignition interlock allows the offender to drive and stay within the law. The device prevents him or her to take to the roads under the influence.

The Governor has gone on record saying that the devices will save lives by taking drunk drivers off Maryland roads. In fact, .08 is a high level of impairment; most developed countries have a permissible BAC level of .05 or below.

How do we know the change will help?

These changes aren’t exactly experimental. 25 states now require ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenses. The CDC has published studies showing that interlocks work, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) considers the devices part of a working anti-drunk-driving strategy.

LifeSafer-Ignition-Interlock-FC100In fact, Governor Hogan’s new rule puts Maryland in line with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) standards on interlock programs.

It was only a few days ago that families of drunk driving victims took part in the 12th annual Maryland Remembers ceremony. It is important to remember friends and loved ones who are needlessly killed and injured by impaired drivers. But it is more vital to take measures to bring down the number of victims. Based on everything we know about drunk driving, Governor Hogan has done just that. He has our thanks.

New Massachusetts Ignition Interlock Bill Would Put State in Anti-OUI Forefront



The problem with drunk drivers is that they get back behind the wheel. AAA and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), among other road safety organizations, believe that they must be stopped, and they know the way to do it.

Ignition interlocks, or car breathalyzers, are ordered by most states for at least some drunk driving offenders. They prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver has beAAen drinking.

AAA and MADD want everyone in Massachusetts to know what ignition interlocks do, and why the devices should be mandated for all drunk driving offenses, including first offenses. They support Senate Bill 1895, which lets an OUI offender swap a suspension for an ignition interlock.

Suspensions don’t work – ignition interlocks do

License suspensions are the first recourse for courts when dealing with drunk drivers. The problem is, they don’t get results – half to three-quarters of suspended drivers end up getting behind the wheel. Every day drivers are arrested for ignoring their suspensions. A great many drunk driving collisions involve drivers who are suspended at the time.

Currently, Massachusetts gives drivers convicted of a first-time OWI a six-month suspension. MADD and AAA support Senate Bill 1895, which raises the suspension to one year, but with the choice of installing an ignition interlock as an alternative to the suspension. Among the advantages of this strategy:

  • The offender can drive, but will not be able to do so after drinking, so others on the road are protected.
  • The offender can drive to work, school, and also obtain counseling and rehab, if necessary. A driving ban can make these impossible, leading to more problems and more drunk driving.

Considerations, considerations

There are always people who object to ignition interlocks as an answer, despite the recommendations of those who deal with drunk driving every day. Among the objections

  • It’s not punitive enough. True, it doesn’t “hurt” quite as much as prison, but imprisonment is expensive and is not proven as a preventive measure for OUI. In any case, the object should not be to make the drunk driver “hurt” but solve the problem of drunk driving. An interlock does a lot toward that goal.
  • It costs the offender money.  There is a fee for the device leasing, as well as monthly monitoring and calibration. It amounts to about $900 a year.  Having the fee paid by the offender is generally considered a good deal for the state. However, there are concerns about people who can’t pay. Some states offer indigent programs to help some offenders with the ignition interlocks fees. Such programs are still much cheaper than dealing with the problems caused by drunk drivers, whose crimes increase court and law enforcement costs.
  • The devices can be bypassed or tricked. This is a common objection by those who aren’t familiar with the devices. Interlocks require regular re-testing while driving to prevent offenders from asking a friend to start the car. Cameras can be added to record the breath test, ensuring that only the offender is using the device. And attempts to bypass or tamper with the device are logged and set to authorities.

Currently exactly half of U.S. states have laws mandating ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders. If 1895 is passed, Massachusetts will be the twenty-sixth state to hop on the bandwagon and advance the country’s fight against drunk driving. We hope that good sense prevails and the considerations are seen as a small part of the big picture.

Fingers crossed for Massachusetts and its progress from OUI punishment to OUI prevention.

Iowa Man Eats Toilet Paper, Somehow Fails to Escape Arrest for Drunk Driving Anyway

eating-toilet-paper-will-not-fool-a-breathalyzerWe’ve heard of ways you can defeat a breathalyzer or ignition interlock. This one was new to us, however. In Iowa City police spotted a man driving the wrong way down Market Street. When stopped, he was tried to eat some toilet paper. Apparently he believed it would fool the breathalyzer test.

It didn’t, and he was charged with DUI.

For the record, here are some other things that won’t fool a breathalyzer:

  • Breath mints. A police officer is not your date. And breathalyzers measure alcohol in your lungs, not in your mouth.
  • Hyperventilating. Just in case you’re not dizzy enough. No, it doesn’t work.
  • Sucking on a penny. (Ewww!)
  • Eating antacids. Nothing in your stomach has any effect on the reading.
  • Mouthwash. Even if it doesn’t contain alcohol (which would increase the reading), it won’t lower it.
  • Pills sold to “divert alcohol from the stomach to the kidneys.” Right. Let us know how that works out.
  • Belching while blowing into the breathalzyer. Just stop.

Breathalyzers, as well as ignition interlocks, which use the same technology, work by measuring the alcohol that exits through the lungs, which it does at a fairly consistent rate. The amount of alcohol in the lungs is proportional to the amount in one’s system, enabling a pretty accurate measurement of intoxication.

So unless your trick involves removing alcohol directly from your blood, you will have a hard time coming up with a way to cheat a breathalyzer or ignition interlock.

Of course, if it makes you feel better to carry a roll of TP around with you, by all means do it.