Opportunity for DUI Redemption Not Wasted


Sometimes a past DUI conviction is a reminder of a careless mistake or a lapse of judgment. When you're running for public office, it can become a source of relentless worry, especially if no one's found out about it...yet.

Such was the case with Troy Farlow, Democrat candidate for Virginia's 96th house. According to the Virginia Gazette, Farlow was charged with felony hit-and-run in 1999 for a drunk driving accident that had occurred four years earlier. How did the police track him down? They didn't. Farlow turned himself in.

In fact, Farlow was charged-and convicted-for a crime he did not commit, reports the Gazette. In 1995, Farlow's father, Tom, was driving under the influence of alcohol, ran a red light, hit another car, and refused to stop, according to the Gazette. Afraid a conviction would harm his reputation as an insurance company executive, he allegedly tried to convince his sons, 18 and 24, to take the blame.

Instead, no one reported the incident.

Four years later, Troy Farlow decided to clear his conscience and "do the right thing," according to reports. He confessed to police and was convicted of a misdemeanor (lowered from a felony) and fined. Why? Because, according to Virginia law, passengers in hit-and-run accidents are responsible for reporting accidents within 24 hours when the drivers do not.

Previous offenders over the age of 21 need to only have a blood alcohol content (BAC) under the state legal limit for driving, which is 0.08 or less. Those who are under 21 must be completely alcohol-free and will not be given admission if they register a BAC greater than 0.00 on the breathalyzer test.

The University of Wisconsin has previously tested certain problem drinking offenders, and the new program expands on previous efforts in a campus-wide push by the administration to reduce the negative impact of alcohol on campus. The Students' Office hopes that the new measures will be a visual deterrent against problem behavior, since students on the list will be required to perform the breath test in full view of students coming through the entrance gates.

The consequences of failing to comply with the new procedures could also be far more serious than being denied entry into a football game. Any season ticket holder cited for unruly conduct could have their tickets revoked. And, according to the new plans, previous offenders who are booted from football games again could face suspension from the university.

Yet previous offenders are not the only ones who will be stopped by campus officials and police: students who are visibly intoxicated upon entry could be prevented entry and could also face the UW police department.

Night games are generally worse for behavior problems related to drinking, as proved by the most recent night game, against the Michigan Wolverines in 2005. In that game, 69 citations were issued, including 58 to UW students. Sixty total people were arrested, 58 of them students, and 114 people were ejected, 77 of whom were UW students.

With as many as 80,000 fans attending the games, the numbers for these incidents might sound low. But the University of Wisconsin, as a premier Division I football school, is taking any and all incidents involving disorderly behavior and problem drinking seriously, and hopefully many major universities across the United States will follow Wisconsin's lead in trying to quell the growing problem of students drinking to excess.

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