A Town Hall event addressing the impact of underage drinking was held in December at the Ohio Valley Mall. Guest speakers included The Honorable Mark Costine--Belmont County Juvenile Judge, Belmont County Sheriff Dave Lucas, and Julie Bray of Pennsylvania. Each speaker addressed their connection to the underage drinking issue, as well as other destructive behaviors that young people engage in.
Judge Costine and Sheriff Lucas both addressed underage drinking from the legal side, citing the number of cases they deal with as well as the specific damage they witnessed. Sheriff Lucas noted a case he worked on previously where numerous teens were severely injured and one deceased from a lethal batch of moonshine. The provider of the alcohol in that case, a 19 year old, was charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Julie Bray brought an a different perspective to the event, detailing the negative impact underage drinking had on her life as a teenager. Specifically, Julie discussed a 1990 car accident in which four of her best friends were killed as a result of her and another friend drinking and driving. Julie emphasized the horrendous impact that the car accident had on her life and the extent to which it really "wasn't worth it" for a night of partying. She addressed the youths in the crowd saying, "I've been in your shoes...when I was your age, I didn't want to listen to adults either, but if I had I wouldn't be a murderer."
Students from a local school were also there to provide statistics related to drinking and driving for the crowd. Among those cited at the event were the following:
Everyday 28 people in the United States die in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents.
The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $44 billion.
The average drunk driver drives intoxicated 80 times before being stopped for their first OVI offense.
In addition to the speakers, ODOT's Belmont County garage brought over a distracted driving simulator for attendees to experience the negative effects of distractions such as being intoxicated or texting on driving.