Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Celebrate ‘Independence’ from Drunk Driving This July 4th Remember: Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving

The Fourth of July may be America’s iconic holiday, but all too often the revelry ends in tragedy on the highways due to drunk driving.

The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition urges everyone in Van Buren County to celebrate this Independence Day with a pledge to keep the region “independent” from drunk driving. 

“The Fourth may be one of the nation’s most popular holidays, but, unfortunately, it’s also one of the most dangerous in terms of alcohol-related fatalities.  Too many people think they can get behind the wheel because they’ve only had a few drinks and just have a ‘buzz’ on.  The truth is you don’t have to be falling down drunk to be a menace to yourself and everyone around you on the highways.  Remember: buzzed driving is drunk driving.”

Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration underscore the toll drunk driving takes on the nation.  NHTSA reports that there were 9,878 fatalities involving drunk driving in 2011, accounting for 31 percent of the total motor vehicle traffic deaths for that year.  That worked out to about one death every 53 minutes in 2011.

Drunk driving fatalities spike during holidays like the Fourth of July.  During the Independence Day holiday in 2011 (which ran from 6 p.m., July 1 to 5:59 p.m., July 5), 428 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes and, of these, 161 (38%) died in crashes involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a BAC of .08 g/dL or higher.  A BAC of .08 is the legal intoxication limit recognized by all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the various territories of the United States.

The 2011 drunk-driving toll during the Fourth of July holiday was no mere statistical anomaly.  NHTSA statistics for Independence Day fatalities over a five-year period (from 2007 to 2011) show that 40 percent of drunk driving fatalities involved drivers with BACs of .08 or higher.  Even more disturbing, over the same five-year period, 66 percent of drunk-driving fatalities involved drivers who had BACs of at least .15 g/dL, almost twice the legal intoxication limit.

Younger drivers nationwide during 2011 still weren’t getting the message that drunk driving is dangerous, according to the NHTSA statistics.  During the 2011 July 4th holiday, 52 percent of young (18- to 34-year old) drivers killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes were legally drunk (having BACs of .08 or higher).

Nighttime is particularly dangerous every day of the year, and the July 4th holiday is no exception.  During the July Fourth holiday period in 2011, the rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes was almost 4.5 times higher at night than during the day.

Such statistics tell a tragic tale.  Alcohol not only impairs your ability to drive, it impairs your judgment about whether you can or should drive.  By the time you get behind the wheel, even if you only have a buzz on, the truth is you’re too drunk to drive.  The best thing to keep in mind is simply:  Buzzed driving is drunk driving.

The SAFE Coalition recommends these simple tips for a safe Fourth of July:

·        Plan a safe way home before the fun begins;
·        Before drinking, designate a sober driver;
·        If you’re impaired, call a sober friend or family member so you are sure to get home safely;
·        If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office at 319-293-3426 or 911;
·        And remember, Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving. If you know people who are about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

More information on avoiding impaired driving can be found at  You can also find more information and resources for avoiding substance abuse on the SAFE Coalition website at  If you have any other questions please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or

Know the Facts about Boating & Drinking

Operating a Motorboat or Sailboat While Intoxicated – Effective July 1, 2011 the blood alcohol level for boating while intoxicated (BWI) is reduced from .10 percent to .08 percent - the same as a motor vehicle.   Boaters are reminded that alcohol reduces reaction time and ability to make quick, sound judgments in an emergency situation. Also, wind, sun, glare off the water, and water movement multiplies the effects of alcohol.

Operating a motorboat or sailboat while under the influence of alcohol (.08 alcohol level or higher), a controlled substance, or other illegal chemical is unlawful. For the purpose of BWI, "operating a motorboat" means the motorboat is powered by a motor that is running. For the purposes of BWI, "operating a sailboat" means the sailboat is either powered by a motor that is running or has sails hoisted and is underway. Operators who are impaired may be required to take tests by an enforcement officer to determine their sobriety. Anyone refusing to test will be charged a penalty.
All navigable waters in the state of Iowa will be subject to the new law, except farm ponds and privately owned lakes.
First Offense: A Serious Misdemeanor – A serious misdemeanor can result in the following punishments:
  • Imprisonment in county jail for at least 48 hours.
  • Assessment of a fine up to $1,000.
  • Loss of boat operating privileges for one year.
  • Assignment to a substance abuse evaluation and treatment, and a course for drinking drivers.

Second Offense: An Aggravated Misdemeanor –
An aggravated misdemeanor can result in the following punishments:
  • Imprisonment in county jail or community-based correctional facility for at least seven days.
  • Assessment of a $1,500 to $5,000 fine.
  • Loss of boat operating privileges for two years.
  • Assignment to a substance abuse evaluation and treatment, and a course for drinking drivers.

Third Offense: A Class "D" Felony –
A class "D" felony can result in the following punishments:
  • Imprisonment in the county jail for 30 days to one year.
  • Assessment of a $2,500 to $7,500 fine.
  • Loss of boat operating privileges for six years.
  • Assignment to a substance abuse evaluation and treatment, and a course for drinking drivers.
Consequences of Refusing to Test – Refusing to submit to a breath or chemical test can result in a $500 fine and a one year suspension of boat operating privileges. If the offender, during the second offense, refuses to submit to a test, a $1,000 fine will be assigned plus suspension of boat operating privileges. Third-time offenders will receive a $2,000 fine and suspension of boat operating privileges. 
Questions & Answers
Can I drink alcohol on the boat?  Yes, consuming alcohol is permissible on the boat, but remember the operator is not to be under the influence.

Will a boating while intoxicated (BWI) offense affect my driver's license?  No, a boating while intoxicated (BWI) offense will not be transferred to your automobile driving records.
How much alcohol can I consume to be considered legally drunk?  That depends on the individual. Use extra precaution while drinking on the boat because sun, wind and movement can quickly amplify the effects of alcohol and disorient the operator or passengers.

The information for this article came from the Iowa DNR website. 
For more information contact Iowa Department of Natural Resources at 515-281-5918 or at

Friday, June 14, 2013

2012 Iowa Youth Survey Results

The Iowa Youth Survey is conducted by the Iowa Department of Public Health's Division of Behavioral Health in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Education, the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy, the Iowa Department of Human Rights’ Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning and Statistical Analysis Center, and the Iowa Department of Human Services.

In the fall of 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2010, and 2012 students in the 6th, 8th, and 11th grades across the state of Iowa answered questions about their attitudes and experiences regarding alcohol and other drug use and violence, and their perceptions of their peer, family, school, and neighborhood/community environments.  In 2008 the survey was administered online for the first time. 

The 2012 Iowa Youth Survey county reports are designed to help local and state-level planners, community agencies, and school personnel identify youth development needs, implement relevant, targeted interventions, and assess outcomes. IYS data can assist in providing a better understanding of students in Iowa and their needs. It can also help to assess the strengths and challenges of schools, families, and communities from the young person’s perspective. In addition, IYS data may be used to obtain funding for a wide variety of programs and services. The Iowa Youth Survey has proven to be a valuable resource in youth needs assessment, program development, implementation, and outcome evaluation
The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition has seen remarkable results in youth alcohol and tobacco use over the last 10 years based on Iowa Youth Survey results. The SAFE Coalition has been focusing primarily on reducing youth alcohol and marijuana use and the below charts show the trends from 2002-2012 related to these two substances. You may obtain a full copy of the Iowa Youth Survey at: or by contacting the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412.

The percentage of 11th grade students reporting past 30 day use of    alcohol decreased from 53% in 2005 to 25% in 2012.

The percentage of 11th grade students reporting past 30 day use of   marijuana decreased from 12% in 2002 to 2% in 2012.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Dads, could your kids be at risk for substance abuse?

Families strive to find the best ways to raise their children to live happy, healthy and productive lives.  Parents are often concerned about whether their children will start or are already using drugs such as tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and others, including the abuse of prescription drugs.  Research supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has shown the important role that parents play in preventing their children from starting to use drugs.

These five questions, developed by the Child and Family Center at the University of Oregon, highlight parenting skills that are important in preventing the initiation and progression of drug use among youth.  For each question, there is a video clip on line at that shows positive and negative examples of the skill and additional videos and information are provided to help you practice positive parenting skills.  


  1. Are you able to communicate calmly and clearly with your teenager regarding relationship problems?
  2. Do you encourage positive behaviors in your teenager on a daily basis?
  3. Are you able to negotiate emotional conflicts with your teenager and work toward a solution?
  4. Are you able to calmly set limits when your teenager is defiant or disrespectful? Are you able to set limits on more serious problem behavior such as drug use, if or when it occurs?
  5. Do you monitor your teenager to assure that s/he does not spend too much unsupervised time with peers?

For more information on parenting teens and substance abuse risks please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or by email at  For other resources please checkout the coalition’s website at or on Facebook – Van Buren County SAFE Coalition or on the coalition’s blog at

Article and data provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse Website. 


  1. Dishion, T.J.; Nelson, N.E.; Kavanagh, K. The Family Check-Up with high-risk young adolescents: Preventing early-onset substance use by parent monitoring. Behavior Therapy 34: 553-571, 2003.
  2. Dishion,T.J.; Kavanagh, K.;  Schneiger, A.;  Nelson, S.; Kaufman, N.K. Preventing early adolescent substance use: A family-centered strategy for the public middle school. Prevention Science 3 (3): 191-201, 2002.