Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Community Events & Alcohol Restrictions

Community Conversations


For the past 242 years, on July 4th, Americans have celebrated the birth of our great nation. We set off fireworks, fly our flags, and partake in backyard barbecues and pool parties galore. But as the celebrations wind down and friends and families head home, it’s vital we all work together to spread this life-saving message: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. This Independence Day, the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office, SAFE Coalition and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) want to remind you that any time you drive under the influence of alcohol, you put everyone in danger, including yourself. During the Fourth of July holiday weekend, make sure you plan for a safe week of festivities.

During the 2016 Fourth of July holiday (6 p.m. July 2 to 5:59 a.m. July 6), 188 people were killed in crashes involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. This is a 28-percent increase from 2015, during which 146 people were killed during the same holiday period. That’s 188 families who will forever remember Independence Day with a heavy heart and nightmarish memories.

We want our community to enjoy the Fourth of July holiday, but we want them to do so responsibly. This is why we’ve partnered with NHTSA to help get the message out that Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. This is not a joke, and it’s not a time to test the laws. Drunk driving is illegal, but it’s also deadly. It’s deadly to the driver, to the driver’s passengers, and to other road users in this community. We’re imploring you: Please ensure you have a sober driver lined up to get you home safely from your holiday festivities. Doing so could save a life.

According to NHTSA, 37,461 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2016, and 28 percent (10,497) of those fatalities occurred in a crash during which the driver had a BAC over the legal limit of .08. With Fourth of July festivities wrapping up in the evening or late at night, more cars will be on the roads. The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes is higher at night. During the 2016 July Fourth holiday period, it was more than three times higher at night than it was during the day.
We need every single adult who plans to drive on the Fourth of July to hear us loud and clear. Drunk driving is deadly. It’s a selfish decision that jeopardizes the lives of many. Please work with us and designate a sober driver. If you plan to be the sober driver, then don’t drink, not even one — your friends are relying on you.

This Fourth of July, the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office, SAFE Coalition and NHTSA urge drivers to designate a sober driver before heading out for the evening. If you plan on drinking, plan how you will get around without driving. Remember these tips for a safe night on the roads:
·         Remember that it is never okay to drive after drinking. Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver.
·         Download NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, available on Google Play for Android devices: (, and Apple’s iTunes Store for iOS devices: ( SaferRide allows users to call a predetermined friend, and identifies the user’s location so they can be picked up.
·         If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office
·         Have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.

Drinking and driving is dangerous, even if you’re “just buzzed.” When you drive impaired, you risk your life and safety, and the lives and safety of those riding with you and around you. Does mortality not get your attention? Maybe money will: A DUI arrest could cost you up to $10,000, not to mention the loss of your vehicle and driver’s license. You could face jail time, higher insurance rates, and hefty expenses from attorney fees, fines, car towing, repairs, and lost time at work. Imagine trying to explain that to your family, friends, or employer.  

This Fourth of July, commit to only driving 100-percent sober, because Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. For more information on impaired driving, visit

Friday, June 15, 2018

Know the Facts about Boating & Drinking

Operating a Motorboat or Sailboat While Intoxicated –Boaters are reminded that alcohol reduces reaction time and the 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.  The current blood alcohol level for boating while intoxicated (BWI) is .08 percent – the same as a motor vehicle as of July 2011.   

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

Suicide Rates Up Nationally, Iowa Ranks 31 in U.S.

A Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Vital Signs report released today finds suicide rates in the U.S. have risen nearly 30 percent since 1999 and mental health conditions are one of several factors contributing to the rise. From 1999-2016, suicide rates increased in nearly every state, with 25 states experiencing increases of more than 30 percent each; Iowa is one of those states.

From 2014 to 2016, Iowa’s age-adjusted annual suicide rate per 100,000 was 16.0, up from 11.8 from 1999 to 2001. Iowa currently ranks 31 in the U.S. for suicide rate, an improvement from 18 in 1999-2001 time period. A range of factors contributes to suicide beyond mental health conditions alone, including relationship, substance use, physical health, job, financial and legal problems. If you are dealing with thoughts of suicide or are concerned that someone may be thinking about suicide, visit for free confidential help by phone, text or online chat.

“Suicide is a serious public health issue that affects not just the individuals who die by suicide and their families, but also our communities and society as a whole,” said Tiffany Conroy of the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) Office of Disability, Injury and Violence Prevention.  “Fortunately, like other public health issues, suicide can be preventable. By addressing risk and protective factors impacting communities, we can decrease the feelings of isolation and stigma often experienced by people who have thoughts of suicide, and have a positive impact on the health and well-being of our society. We can save lives.”

The CDC has identified several protective factors that lessen the risk for suicide. Some of these include:
·         Feeling connected to others – joining community or other groups that promote a feeling of belonging.
·         Learning coping and problem-solving skills – this could include parenting or family relationship classes, or other learning opportunities.
·         Reducing excessive alcohol use – this includes supportive community policies.

To learn more about the CDC’s resilience factors, visit  To read the CDC’s report on suicide, visit

IDPH News Release
Contact: Polly Carver-Kimm

Thursday, June 7, 2018

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 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.  


  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 they do not spend too much unsupervised time with peers?

For more information on talking to your teens about substance abuse please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-3334 ext. 1017 or by email at  For other resources please check out the coalition’s blog at or on Facebook – Van Buren County SAFE Coalition

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.

Social Host Ordinance