Stop and think before you get behind the wheel on New Year’s Eve.
This is the motto of one Georgia funeral home – a family business that has been running Operation Stop and Think for the past 10 years.
According to a CNN report, McGuire, Jennings and Miller Funeral Home in Rome, Ga. has been offering a contract to anyone who wants to sign it up until noon on New Year’s Eve.
What exactly is this contract? It’s a contract stating that the undersigned definitely plans to drink or use drugs and then drive a car on New Year’s Eve.
If someone does sign the contract, McGuire, Jennings and Miller will cover the costs of everything related to their funeral when they are killed from DUI – including a casket, burial plot and even flowers.
Barry Miller, one of the funeral home’s owners, said the program started 10 years ago when he lost a family member to a drunk driver.
In the 10 years the program has been running, not one person has come in to sign the contract.
Miller said he never expects anyone to actually sign it, but they use it as more of a tool with some shock value, in hopes of saving a life.
If you’re drinking and driving in the state of Illinois this holiday season, keep this in mind: When pulled over for DUI, the money you pay in fines will go in part to funding new cop cars and updated breathalyzer machines.
According to a report from the Illinois News Tribune, as much as 20 percent of a DUI fine goes to the arresting county’s police department, while the rest of the fine is distributed to other funds – some of which include new police cruisers and new breath test equipment.
It’s just one more reason to be extra careful on the roads this holiday season – if you don’t get a ticket, you won’t be contributing to state police funding!
The first decade of the new millennium came in with a bang – everyone was freaked out about Y2K, and ringing in the year 2000 might have been the biggest party Times Square has ever seen.
Along with all the fun to be had in the 2000s, there were plenty of celebrities busted for drunk driving.
Among the celebrity DUIs from 2000 – 2009 are actor Rip Torn, busted in Connecticut in December 2006; former basketball star Charles Barkley, arrested in Arizona in December 2008; Stephanie Pratt, “The Hills” reality star, arrested in October 2009; Mike Tyson, former boxer, busted in Arizona in December 2006; George Michael caught in England in August 2009; and actress Heather Locklear, arrested in California in September 2008 – just to name a few.
There were also some close calls that didn’t turn into an arrest and DUI charges, like Jenna Bush’s warning for underage drinking and driving back in 2001.
To help recap the first decade of the new millennium, Total DUI has compiled a list of the Top Ten Most Memorable Celebrity DUIs of the Decade:
- Academy Award nominee Nick Nolte was arrested in September 2002 when highway patrol pulled him over for erratic driving in Malibu. Nolte was described by officers as “drooling” and “completely out of it.” Nolte had a history of drug and alcohol abuse, once referring to himself as a “functioning drunk,” according to CBS News.
- Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan, formerly of Saturday Night Live, had a blood–alcohol level of .13 when he was arrested in Hollywood in December 2005. Morgan was given three years of probation as a result of the DUI offense, and had to attend an alcohol education program, according to an Associated Press report.
- Canadian rock group Nickleback’s front man, Chad Kroeger, was arrested for DUI in British Columbia in June 2006, according to the Canadian Press. Kroeger was pulled over for “excessive speeding and erratic driving,” while in his $175,000 Lamborghini. After the arrest, Kroeger’s main concern was how his car was to be transported home. The officers allowed him to make arrangements and stay with the car until he was sure it would make it safely back to his house.
- In July 2006, actor Mel Gibson was arrested for DUI in California. He also reportedly had an open container in his car, according to CNN. Gibson’s DUI arrest was made memorable after he was reported to have made anti-Semitic and sexist comments, for which he later apologized. Gibson’s DUI has since been expunged.
- Child star Haley Joel Osment, famous for his roles in The Sixth Sense and A.I., was charged with DUI in July 2006. According to People Magazine, Osment crashed his car into a mailbox and flipped over. He was charged with the possession of marijuana and for being under the age of 21 with a .05 blood-alcohol level. Osment was 18 years old at the time.
- Paris Hilton: Singer, actress, comedian, heiress, arrestee? According to MSNBC, Hilton was on her way to In-N-Out Burger after having not eaten all day when she was pulled over and arrested for DUI in September 2006. The heiress said of her DUI arrest, “It was nothing,” and her publicist said he doubted it would hurt her reputation – if anything, it seems like it made her more famous.
- Nicole Richie, star of TV’s “The Simple Life,” was arrested for DUI in California in December 2006. According to an ABC News report, Richie was driving alone in her Mercedes SUV. Officers picked her up after receiving 911 calls about a car driving on the wrong side of the expressway. At the time of her arrest, Richie was said to be 5′1″ and weighed just 85 pounds.
- In July 2007 in Santa Monica, Lindsay Lohan was booked in jail as part of a California DUI investigation after a 911 call from a woman who was allegedly being chased by Lohan’s SUV. This arrest occurred only two weeks after the actress left rehab, according to a Fox News report. Lohan was unable to pass a field sobriety test at the time of her arrest.
- Comedian and former Saturday Night Live cast member, Bill Murray, was traveling abroad in Sweden when was seen driving around in a golf cart in August 2007. Murray was never convicted, according to CBS News, but he refused a breathalyzer when Swedish authorities pulled him over, so they required a blood test. Officials said prison was unlikely, but the actor faced a fine. No one knows where the golf cart came from, but officials asserted that there were no theft charges against the actor.
- The star of the hit TV series “24″, Kiefer Sutherland, was arrested in Hollywood in September 2007 on suspicion of DUI. After making an illegal U-turn, the actor was pulled over by LAPD officials and failed a field sobriety test, according to People Magazine. This was Sutherland’s second DUI arrest of the decade (the first was in 2004), so he served mandatory jail time.
A charity group based in Beverly Hills – the Lev Foundation – has a printable voucher for a $10 cab ride posted on its Web site. The vouchers will be available through the month of December.
According to an Associated Press article, the Lev Foundation was created last year by the friends and family of 25-year-old Daniel Levian after he was killed as a passenger in a drunk driving accident.
The Web site reported that about 200 vouchers have been distributed so far.
The holiday season is definitely a time of heightened DUI arrests and deaths. Taking action to prevent DUIs is commendable, and hopefully the Lev Foundation sees great success with this endeavor.
An Amish man was arrested for DUI when he was discovered sleeping ‘behind the wheel’ of a moving buggy, according to an Associated Press report.
The horse was spotted pulling the buggy at a slow walking pace in the middle of the road on Sunday night.
Police discovered a 22-year-old man asleep in the driver’s seat of the buggy. According to the Associated Press report, officers recorded the man’s breathalyzer test at 0.18 – the legal limit for blood alcohol content in Pa. is 0.08.
According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, the number of deaths caused by drunk driving decreased by seven percent between 2007 and 2008.
The number of deaths in 2007 was 13,041 and in 2008 it was recorded at 11,773, which is 1,268 fewer deaths than the previous year.
This recent decrease mirrors a trend that has been happening in the U.S. since the 80s. In 1982 there were more than 21,000 DUI related fatalities – that number has decreased 44 percent since then.
The states with the most improved rates of DUI-related deaths are Maine, Vermont and Wisconsin. Montana is the state that has the highest rate of DUI deaths – but the Montana rate did drop 10 percent from 2007 to 2008.
DUI-related fatality rates did fall in 40 states from 2007 to 2008.
According to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, each state’s law enforcement actions directly affect the rate of DUI fatalities.
In Oak Harbor, Wash., a small community off the coast of Washington on Whidbey Island, two bizarre incidents occurred on the same day, both allegedly involving driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The first accident involved a 22-year-old woman who was driving her Volkswagen Beetle on Midway Boulevard, a road that travels directly toward the coast of the island.
The woman drove her Beetle straight through an intersection without stopping and “careened down an embankment and ended up in the tidelands,” according to a report from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Luckily for the negligent driver, it was low tide at the time so she did not end up submerged and in possible danger for her life.
On her way into the tidelands, the Beetle crashed through a concrete bench. The bench was part of a memorial to volunteer firefighters. The car also damaged what city officials called a “lift station breather vent.”
According to Oak Harbor Police Chief Rick Wallace, the woman was arrested on suspicion of DUI. A tow truck was able to pull the car from the tidelands. The city will seek restitution for the damaged bench.
The Post-Intelligencer reported the second similar accident that occurred on the same day happened just after midnight on Sunday; a 20-year-old woman drove her car into a two-story apartment building.
“It appeared to be very minor damage,” said Chief Wallace. He did mention that it’s possible there was unseen structural damage to the property.
The driver of the car is a resident in the building that she ran into. She was arrested on suspicion of DUI and underage drinking.
Fortunately, nobody was injured in either of the incidents. When DUI is involved, the results can be far more tragic than those of this odd day of accidents in Oak Harbor.
When the news of DUI accidents is so often more severe than several strange veers off of the road, it can be nice to read about a bad situation that didn’t end up far worse.