Drinking and Driving News – Nov 1995

November 1995

Controversial DUI law is Constitutional

Ohio’s drunken driving law challenged by critics who claim it violates
protections against being tried for the same crime twice is

constitutional, Franklin County Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 5.

The court, in a 2-1 ruling, said authorities had the right to
prosecute and punish Brian L. Elfrink for drunken driving after his
license was suspended following his arrest. The immediate suspension of
the drunken driver’s license “is an effective way to provide immediate
protection to the public from that driver,” the court said. “The driver
is denied the opportunity to drive at the point in time when he has
demonstrated himself to be a danger to others as well as to himself.”

Since the law went into effect Sept. 30, 1993, it has been attacked as
violating the constitutional protection against double jeopardy on
grounds

that drivers are, in essence, punished twice for the same offense. The
first punishment occurs when the license is seized following the arrest
followed by prosecution of the driver in the courts.

Elfrink was arrested more than a year ago after he was found by
Hilliard police passed out behind the wheel of his car. After he failed
sobriety tests, his license was suspended for 90 days.

The suspension was based on the law’s automatic license suspension
procedures that require a suspension if drivers refuse to have their
blood

alcohol level tested or if the test exceeds the legal limit.

After the suspension was imposed, Elfrink faced prosecution in
Franklin County Municipal Court.

The trial court rejected Elfrink’s challenge to the law. Then, Elfrink
pleaded no contest and he was sentenced.The suspension varies, and allows
the driver to appeal the suspension. If the driver is found guilty of the
drunken driving charge, the time of thesuspension imposed following the
driver’s arrest is credited toward any suspension imposed by the
court.

Elfrink argued the immediate suspension of his

The Ohio and U.S. Constitutions bar a second prosecution for the same
offense and multiple punishments for the same offense.

The appeals court said immediate suspension of a driver’s license
followed by prosecution of the driver is one proceeding, “part of a
coordinated legal response to the threat of the drunk driver.”

The court said, in previous rulings, the Ohio Supreme Court has
determined pretrial license suspensions are allowed to protect the public
from drunken drivers. The high court also has determined that a license
to drive is a privilege, not a right.

Judge Donna Bowman dissented.

“While no on can quarrel with the goal of protecting the public from
drunk drivers, as well as the goal of deterring those who drive while
intoxicated, these goals, however, valid, cannot infringe on individuals’
constitutional rights,” she said.

She said the immediate suspension of the driver’s license followed by
the prosecution of the driver are separate proceedings, and prosecution
should be barred following the suspension. She also said while the law’s
intent is to deter

drunken driving, “its effect is to punish.”

California Drunk Driving Home Page –


MORE WOMEN DRIVE DRUNK

The drunk behind the wheel is increasingly – and more often fatally –
a woman.

While men account for the vast majority of arrests across the nation
for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, an increasing
percentage of those charged are women, according to federal crime
statistics.

Across the nation, too, women are the drivers in an increasing
percentage of fatal traffic incidents in which alcohol was involved.

The trend has surfaced as total DWI arrests and fatal accidents
involving alcohol have been declining.

Experts say the trend is to be expected as women have taken a more
equal role in society.

“More women are drinking than used to be,” said Herbert Moskowitz,
editor of the Journal of Alcohol, Drugs and Driving, published by the
University of Southern California, where he is a research
psychologist.

“More importantly, more women are driving than used to be.”

Along with sharing work stresses with men, Moskowitz and other
researchers say, women also are sharing their drinking habits.

“It’s another aspect of sexual equality,” said H. Laurence Ross, a
professor of sociology at the University of New Mexico and author of
Confronting Drunk Driving.

Two other factors could be at work.

Men more so than women might be heeding the costs of getting caught
driving drunk.

And experts point to a changing attitude by police toward drunken
driving – and women drivers.

“I was a cop in New York City from ’63 to ’79,” said James Fyfe, a
professor of criminal justice at Temple University. “In the city at
least, drunken driving was considered a quirk rather than a serious
offense.

“That’s changed. Police have become much more aware … of how
dangerous they (drunken drivers of both sexes) are.”

Increased DUI arrests of women, he said, means “the death of
chivalry.”

“In large measure, it’s the cops arresting them instead of taking them
for a cup of coffee.”

National data show these trends:

In 1982, 10.7 percent of the 1.4 million people arrested DUI were
women. That figure rose to 13.8 percent in 1992, when 1.3 million people
were arrested for DUI.

The percentages are in annual editions of the Sourcebook of Criminal
Justice Statistics, published by the Justice Department.

In 1982, according to a study by the National Institute on Alcohol
Abuse and Alcoholism, or NIAAA, women constituted 11.33 percent of the
17,137 “alcohol-involved” drivers in fatal traffic crashes.

In 1992, 14.58 percent of such drivers in 13,527 crashes were
women.

Some local officials, who say they don’t break down DUI incidents by
sex, say they have not seen the trend.

Who are the drunken women drivers?

Carol Popkin, head othe women and transportation subcommittee of the
National Academy of Sciences, has researched that.

She is director of research and planning for the substance-abuse
service section of the North Carolina Department of Human Resources.

Her paper, “A Consideration of Factors Influencing Drinking and
Driving by Women,” appeared in a 1993 issue of the Journal on Alcohol,
Drugs and Driving.

The few studies that exist, Popkin wrote, suggest they are likely to
be unmarried, living alone, between the ages of 30 and 50, “are less
likely to be screened as a high-risk driver and … a high-risk problem
drinker, are less likely to have a previous (drunken-driving arrest), and
are less likely to have an arrest for public drunkenness.”

But some studies, she wrote, “suggest that younger women, particularly
those aged 21 to 24, are increasing their involvement in alcohol-related
driving.”


Why are women driving drunk?

“There are more women in the workplace,” she said last week. “A lot of
women are … the only adult in households with small children. Those
changes in roles influence the amount of driving that women do.”

They have more money than before, she said, and less hesitation about
drinking at lunch or after work.

But little research, she said, has focused on drunken women
drivers.

“Women have traditionally been regarded as safer drivers, and not
perceived as being part of the alcohol-involved population.

“Now that women are increasing their involvement … in fatal and
serious crashes, it means we have to look at some of these issues.”


Alcohol Anonymous

Common Goal * Distinct Means

Recovery from alcoholism was a true miracle in 1939 when Alcoholics
Anonymous entered the scene. Quite unlike today’s world in which the
recovery process, which has come to be identified with A.A., finds broad
acceptance and is seen as common-place. Alcoholics Anonymous is most
often described as a “self-help” program, even among the members of the
Fellowship itself. This description, along with the “group therapy”
nomenclature, has led to much confusion among professionals of all kinds,
members of the media, writers in general, and the public at large. So
much so that it has begun to displace the original concept in the minds
of AA members, many who received their first description of AA through
these “third party care-givers.” In order to retain its own concept of
its purpose and function, the time is upon the members of Alcoholics
Anonymous to clarify their place in the alcoholism recovery
experience.

“Self help,” while an easily used description of AA is in actuality a
misrepresentation of the recovery experience as provided by the Twelve
Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. A far more accurate description would be
to present AA’s program as a “spiritual help” or “self responsibility”
program. While those using the self-help term do so with the very best of
intentions, the common usage of that term implies a return to the age old
idea of “will power.”

It is at this early juncture that a difficulty begins for the
potential recovering alcoholic who is headed, or being guided, in the
direction of membership in Alcoholics Anonymous. Whole societies have
sprung up due to this simple miscue. The alcoholic, who has sought a
lifetime to exercise his or her own power, comes to Alcoholics Anonymous
with the misconception that they must exercise this power.
Self-empowerment appears to the newcomer to be the proper approach to the
problem at hand.

In the professional setting this may well be the correct approach.
There exists a contained environment, a vehicle to exert peer pressure,
and professionals trained in determining whether the power exerted by the
individual is focused in a reasonable direction. Behavior modification
requires effort on the part of the patient and the medical/treatment
approach places a great store on treating the symptoms first in order to
stabilize the patient. This to good effect and purpose.

This approach, however, does not transfer well into the AA
environment. Here the accurate description would be self responsibility.
The responsibility falls to the individual to seek out the methods and
actions which might be used to remain sober. While this takes every bit
as much personal exertion as previously noted in the professional
environment, its focus is quite different.

As is noted in the book, Alcoholics Anonymous, “defiance is the
outstanding character of the alcoholic. The Twelve Steps and Twelve
Traditions take this central fact into account in presenting a program of
recovery to the potential member. They place the responsibility squarely
on the individual for becoming aware of and modifying their behavior.
Life, in general, and active alcoholism, in particular, become the
disciplinarians. For most it takes little time to come to the realization
that their battle is with, and within, themselves. With great wisdom,
born out of tragic experiences, Alcoholics Anonymous refuses to offer the
alcoholic an opportunity to create the illusion that the problem lies
anywhere other than with themselves.

The Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous cannot suffer from this quirk
of the alcoholic. Since it does not offer advice to the individual, it
need not rely on the reporting done by the person. Again, the
responsibility falls directly on the alcoholic trying to get sober.

And so it is that the ultimate goal of sobriety is met by considerably
different means by Alcoholics Anonymous and those treating the illness
professionally. Clearly each method has its place. There are those who
require only one of the two methods, and legions of others who will take
advantage of both. Each also has a responsibility to the other in this
common endeavor. Both the professional and the AA member must work
diligently to retain the integrity of their respective approaches while
ensuring the autonomy of the other. For only through each being able to
offer their particular approach can we be sure, with any degree of
comfort, that all has been made available to those who suffer. It is not
ours to determine where the doorways to sobriety ought to be, for we know
not from which direction our fellows suffers will come. Ours is but to
ensure that the doorway entrusted to our care is in its place, open to
the next alcoholic wanting to gain entrance to our world of the
spirit.


American Drinking History

The Alcoholic Republic

1800-1855

Americans steadily drank more and more whiskey during the early 1800s
as supply increased and price tumbled. The annual per capita consumption
of distilled spirits in 1830 was five gallonsnearly five times the amount
people consume today. Like rum, whiskey was legal tender. People bartered
with whiskey, paid

their taxes with whiskey, and on some occasions, paid their ministers’
salaries with whiskey. It was also a dietary staplebecause the supply of
other beverages was unreliable and water sometimes carried disease.

Liquor and socializing were closely entwined. Taverns and inns served
as important community centers. They sheltered and fed travelers and
often served as the local trading post, post

office, auction house, courtroom, polling place, recruiting and
militia office, stage coach depot, and liquor retailer.

As whiskey consumption accelerated, drunkenness increased so markedly
that it caused widespread community complaint and commentary. Family
violence also became a more visible fact of life. Accounts of inebriate
mothers neglecting their children spread, but these stories were
outnumbered by incidents of wife and child beating.

These social ills coupled with rising incidents of alcohol-related
illnesses alarmed many Americans, giving rise to a temperance movement
between 1820 and 1850. The cries for temperancemoderate use of alcoholand
for complete abstinence swept across the United States with a wave of
religious revivals. Secular societies also organized, including the
Washingtonians, a support group similar to today’s Alcoholics Anonymous.
As a result of the temperance movement, drinking rates sharply dropped
from five gallons per capita in 1830 to less than two gallons in
1840.


DUI SUSPECT GIVES DRIVE-UP SERVICE TO THE TORONTO POLICE

A man who drove to a Toronto police station to find out if he was
sober enough to be behind the wheel was charged with drunken driving.

Norman Newmarch, 60, arrived at a police station about 8:30 a.m.
Sunday. Unaware he was being watched by police, he tried to park and
nudged a cruiser, Constable Peter Irish said.

Irish said Newmarch drove to the station because he wanted to know if
he had ”slept it off through the night” and was fit to get behind the
wheel.

Newmarch was given two blood-alcohol tests and charged with driving
under the influence of alcohol.


Legalization Increases Drug Use by Colombians

ANGEL GONZLEZ, a Bogota drug pusher, says his life isn’t any easier
since the Colombian government decriminalized drug use.

“They can’t get the users, so the cops come down on us all the harder,
and the ‘taxes’ are worse than ever,” says Mr. Gonzalez. He is bitter
after spending the previous night in jail – he didn’t have money for the
bribes the police call “taxes.”

It has been a year since Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled that
drug users may carry a personal dose of marijuana, cocaine, methadone, or
hashish. The sale of drugs and use by minors or in public places is still
prohibited.

In the past year, use of these drugs has risen, while the age of the
users has fallen, says Gonzalez. Emergency-room physicians and drug
consellors rehabilitation councilors agree.

Many Colombians deny theirs is a society of drug takers and blame the
United States and other consuming countries for Colombia’s drug problems.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration says Colombia produces 80 percent
of the world’s cocaine and a third its heroin.

But the proportion of addicts in Colombian cities is approaching that
of the US. Since the personal dose was legalized a year ago, more youths
are treading Gonzalez’s path.

The idea behind the Court’s legalizing a personal dose was to force
the government to find more effective methods than law enforcement for
fighting drug abuse, such as education programs in the schools, says
Constitutional Court Justice Carlos Gaviria, who wrote the decision.

“Drugs should be regulated in the same way as alcohol, which is not
sold to minors,” says Judge Gaviria. And no studies have been done that
show that drug consumption has risen since he wrote the opinion, he
points out.

Decriminalization of the personal dose is one cause, Dr. Uribe adds.
The other is the international war on drugs, which causes more of the
product to be kept in Colombia and sold domestically at ever-lower
prices.

Many Colombians, such as former Prosecutor General Gustavo de Greiff,
support worldwide decriminalization, which would eliminate the violent
distribution chain. Legalized drugs mean lower prices and an end to the
wars among distributors.


Myers: Drunk Driving Incident

‘A Big Mistake’

LOS ANGELES In her first public discussion of her arrest on
drunk-driving charges two weeks before, former White House Press
Secretary Dee Dee Myers told a media gathering Tuesday morning, “I made a
very big mistake.”

It was a virtual echo of the contrite, matter-of-fact stance taken by
actor Hugh Grant the night before on NBC’s “The Tonight Show With Jay
Leno,” except that the crowd of TV criticsgathered at the Ritz-Carlton
Huntington Hotel in Pasadena failed to duplicate for Myers the rousing
ovation that greeted the British actor.

Myers was actually in town to promote her new permanent position as
co-host (opposite staunch conservative Mary Matalin) on the nightly CNBC
political talk show “Equal Time.”

But the conversation inevitably got around to Myers’ embarrassing
arrest in Washington, D.C., on June 27 for driving under the influence.
She was fined $2,000 and faces a possible year

in jail for the incident, which reportedly found her driving on the
wrong side of the street when pulled over by police.

While saying she “didn’t want to go into the details of what
happened,” Myers called the arrest “something that I regret, something
that I think I can say with certainty will never happen again.”

Myers had actually been scheduled to appear Monday on the same
“Tonight Show” attended by Grant but had canceled last week on the advice
of her lawyer, she said.

“I spoke to Jay (Leno), and he was, as always, extremely gracious
about it,” Myers said. “We agreed that when I come back to Los Angeles in
August, maybe I’ll do the show at that time. I can’t say enough good
things about Jay and the way he handled the situation.”

After the official CNBC session concluded Tuesday morning, Myers
huddled informally with a smaller group of reporters and admitted that
even her time as a savvy media liaison for the White House failed to
prepare her for the scrutiny.

“It’s a shocking thing for me; I never thought I’d be in this
situation,” Myers said. “I’ve advised people in crisis situations, but
it’s obviously different when it’s you.”


Early History of The Automobile in California

Just before the turn of the century a new mode of transportation was
seen and heard on the California landscape. It made an enormous racket
like a rapidly popping string of firecrackers. It spewed smoke and
stirred giant clouds of dust. It thrilled youngsters of the day and
frightened animals. Some referred to it as a “horseless carriage.” Others
called it an “automobile.”

It was to have a more profound and greater impact upon the state than
any other single invention. It would eventually intrude into all
California life causing deep and lasting changes.

Initially, the automobile was an instrument of adventure. A
one-hour-and-five minute “scorch” over the 24 miles between Oroville
and

Chico was hailed in the motoring column of the July 16, 1904, San
Francisco News Letter as a “remarkable feat.” Earlier, the San Francisco
Town Talk of January 1901 described a 2,000-mile Northern California
motor trip in which

a W.L. Rockett encountered “bottomless sand and mud.” Dr. David Starr
Jordan, in his autobiography, “The Days of a Man,” tells of a motoring
trip through Santa Clara Valley and up Mount Hamilton in the fall of
1899.

The early day “motor wagon” was also considered a dangerous
instrument. Several California counties passed ordinances requiring
motorists to pull to the side of the road and remain standing when horse
drawn vehicles approached. One court decision characterized the new
contraptions as “highly dangerous” when used on county roads. Ordinances
prohibited operations of the horseless carriage at night.

It was not long before restrictive legislation, designed to protect
horse and mule traffic from the noisy horseless carriage, faded into the
past.

Speedy and convenient individual transit was welcomed as a benefit to
mankind. Soon the muffled throb of the family auto and the rumble of the
heavy duty truck lost their novelty. Elegant, stylish motor car
advertisements soon dominated periodicals.

California’s first half century of automobile legislation portrays a
people striving to understand and to cope with their new motor car
environment. Evidence abounds of legislation by intuition, of false
starts and shifting emphasis, of experiments and of progress.

Essentially, Californians were anxious to police motorists and protect
themselves with a formidable barrier of “rules of the road.”

INITIAL LICENSING

State statutes of 1901 authorized cities and counties to license
bicycles, tricycles, automobile carriages, carts, and similar wheeled
vehicles.

The secretary of state was empowered in 1905 to register and license
motor vehicles. This took the task from the counties and provided a
uniform statewide registration system. Owners paid a $2 fee and were
issued a circular tag. Later, tags were either octagonal or had scalloped
edges.

Owners had to conspicuously display tags in the vehicle. In addition,
they had to display the license number on the rear of the vehicle in
3-inch-high black letters on a white background. Some owners also painted
numbers on headlamp lenses. Vehicle registration prerequisites included
satisfactory lamps, good brakes, and either a bell or a horn.

The first vehicle to be registered under state law was a White Steamer
owned by John D. Spreckels of San Francisco. His, however, was not the
first automobile in California. The San Francisco Sunday Call, of May 11,
1902, recorded there were 117 motor vehicles in use in the city on that
date. Six years earlier, the same paper reported that Charles L. Fir had
owned the city’s only horseless carriage. By 1905, registered vehicles in
California totaled 17,015.

The secretary of state handled vehicle registrations from 1905 until
1913 when the legislature gave the task to the state treasurer. At the
same time, the Engineering Department (predecessor of the Department of
Public Works and forerunner of today’s Department of Transportation)
became custodian of vehicle records.

DMV BORN

The first Department of Motor Vehicles was created in 1915 with
enactment of Senator F.S. Birdsell’s “Vehicle Act of 1915.” Vehicle
registrations that year had climbed to 191,000.

In 1914, the state began issuing its first permanent license plates
upon original registration of vehicles. The system was confirmed by the
legislature in 1915. During the next four years, metal validating tags
had to be bolted to the 1915 license plates. The tags had a bear in 1916;
a poppy in 1917; a liberty bell in 1918; and a star in 1919. Amended in
1919, the permanent license plate law required annual issuance of plates
starting in 1920.

In 1921, the powers and duties of the Department of Motor Vehicles
were transferred to the Division of Motor Vehicles, part of the newly
created Department of Finance. The move reflected recognition of the
division’s revenue producing status.


WINE IS HEALTHY SAYS NEW STUDY

Further debate is expected to result from a new study claiming that
drinking between three and five glasses of wine per day fends off fatal
illness. The findings are contained in he British Medical Journal and
follow research carried out into the drinking habits of men in Denmark by
the Institute of Preventive Medicine. It is possible than the tannin in
red wine helps guard against heart disease, while alcohol generally may
impact blood clotting. The study suggests that wine drinkers are
healthier people than those who do not drink alcohol at all. The British
Medical Association and UK government are worried that such claims will
wrongly portray alcohol as a drug which prevents heart disease.


Mortality in Relation to Consumption of Alcohol:

13 years’ Observations on Male British Doctors.

MDX Health Digest

OBJECTIVETo assess the risk of death associated with various patterns
of alcohol consumption.

DESIGNProspective study of mortality in relation to alcohol drinking
habits in 1978, with causes of death sought over the next 13 years (to
1991).

SUBJECTS12,321 British male doctors born between 1900 and 1930 (mean
1916) who replied to a postal questionnaire in 1978. Those written to in
1978 were the survivors of a long running prospective study of the
effects of smoking that had begun in 1951 and was still continuing.

RESULTSMen were divided on the basis of their response to the 1978
questionnaire into two groups according to whether or not they had ever
had any type of vascular disease, diabetes, or “life threatening disease”
and into seven groups according to the amount of alcohol they drank. By
1991 almost a third had died. Those who reported drinking 8-14 units of
alcohol a week (corresponding to an average of one to two units a day)
had the lowest risks. The causes of death were grouped into three main
categories: “alcoholaugmented” causes (6% of all deaths: cirrhosis, liver
cancer, upper aerodigestive (mouth, oesophagus, larynx, and pharynx)
cancer, alcoholism, poisoning, or injury), ischaemic heart disease (33%
of all deaths), and other causes. The few deaths from alcohol augmented
causes showed, at least among regular drinkers, a progressive trend, with
the risk increasing with dose.

In contrast, the many deaths from ischaemic heart disease showed no
significant trend among regular drinkers, but there were significantly
lower rates in regular drinkers than in non-drinkers.

CONCLUSIONThe consumption of alcohol appeared to reduce the risk of
ischaemic heart disease, largely irrespective of amount. Among regular
drinkers mortality from all causes combined increased progressively with
amount drunk above 21 units a week.

Among British men in middle or older age the consumption of an average
of one or two units of alcohol a day is associated with significantly
lower all cause mortality than is the consumption of no alcohol, or the
consumption of substantial amounts. Above about three units (two American
units) of alcohol a day, progressively greater levels of consumption are
associated with progressively higher all cause mortality.


Public Records May Get Costly

A bill being considered by the state Senate would require payment far
the actual cost of obtaining information under the California Public
Records Act.

The measure also would eliminate the right of prisoners to get any
information through the public records act.

Assembly Bill 1325, introduced by Paula Boland, R-Grenada Hills,
passed the Assembly May 25 and refers to information provided by the
state Department of Corrections.

“It is not an attempt to sell anything but to recover the actual costs
of research,” said Tip Kindel, representative for the Department of
Corrections. ‘”We’re not talking about closing the door to information.
We want to put our correctional officers in the prone (not responding to
information requests).”

The costs would be applied to commercial re-sellers of information,
and patterned after a cost structure already used by the Department of
Motor Vehicles, Kindel said.

Since October 1989, when AB 1779 passed, the Department of Motor
Vehicles has been charging retrieval costs for access to its records,
said DMV spokesman Bill Madison. AB 1779 states that no one can have
access to addresses of private citizens. It was passed after actress
Rebecca Schaeffer was stalked and gunned down at her Los Angeles
apartment. Her killer obtained her address through DMV records.

DMV commercial accounts for access to other information can be set up
by paying a $50,000 bond and a $250 appcation fee. Applicants Then pay
for the cost per document, such as $5 per telephone request and $2 for
each on-line access to vehicle registration,


Coming: A Drug to Sober You Up?

J. Raloff – Science News,Vol. 130 p. 358,

December 6, 1986

Millions will be saluting the coming holidays with more than one glass
of their favorite libation. But when the party’s over, is there anything
available than coffee to clear the head and stabilize one’s equilibrium?
Not yet. But an intriguing new drug appears capable of erasing the
intoxicating effects of too much alcohol. Not only is it providing
insight into the mechanism of intoxication, but it – or a more potent
analog – may also prove useful one day in therapeutically sobering up the
dangerously drunk or in rehabilitating the alcoholic.

The drug, know as Ro15-4513, was originally synthesized by the
Swiss-based Hoffman-La Roche pharmaceutical company for other purposes,
explains Peter D. Suzdak, a researcher with the National Institute of
Health. But about a year ago Hoffman-La Roche published a preliminary
abstract reporting that the drug could block the sedation induced by
ethanol. So Suzdak and five colleagues at the National Institutes of
Health added it to a battery of drugs they were using to study alcohol’s
effects on the brain.

“Our data now suggests,” he says, “that this drug will block the
anti-anxiety or tension-reducing effects of ethanol. It might also block
(additional) positive reinforcement effects of alcohol. If the reason an
alcoholic drinks is because of these effects, then you might have a drug
that’s very useful in treating alcoholics.”

At lease as important, he believes, are the clues the drug is
providing about the cause of inebriation. In the brain there are
pharmacological active sites known as GABA-benzodiazepine complexes. On
one side of the site is a receptor that binds the neurotransmitter GABA
(gammaaminobutyricacid). On the other side is a receptor for
benzodiazepines, anxiety-reducing chemicals like the drug Valium. Between
the two, Suzdak explains, is a channel through which chloride ions may
pass. The binding of GABA or a benzodiazepine to one of the complex’s
receptors will open the channel and let chloride into the neuron – an
action that “will shut down the firing of that neuron,” explains
Suzdak.

Though previous studies had shown that animals’ behavioral response to
ethanol, benzodiazepines and barbiturates could be similar, the reason
had not been established. Research by Suzdak and his co-workers now
indicates that the link may be behavioral changes mediated through the
GABA system. Previous work had shown that ethanol greatly stimulates the
GABA-benzodiazepine complex’s uptake of chloride. Their new work,
reported in the Dec. 5 Science, shows that administration of Ro15-4513
blocks ethanol’s ability to stimulate the channel’s uptake of chloride.
Moreover, in doing so, it apparently block inebriation in rats –
everything from the staggered gait to the release of tension.

This is “a very important link,” Suzdak says. For the first time it
“suggests that many of the behavioral effects of ethanol are due to
changes in the chloride channel.”

“Previously, people though there never was going to be a drug that
could (reverse) alcohol’s effects,” notes neuroscientist George Koob at
the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation in La Jolla, CA. “I think the
significance of their work is showing that there may well be such a safe
and useful drug. But I don’t think such a drug has been developed
yet.”

Koob, who has done his own preliminary research using Ro15-4513 in
rats, says there are indications this drug is not problem-free. His work
suggests it can produce serious “anxiety” in rats. Such anxiety reactions
have been described by humans who have been given drugs known to have
“inverse agonist” properties against benzodiazepines, he says.

Suzdak challenges that interpretation. Through Ro15-4513 is known to
be at lease a weak inverse against, he says, “if the dose we were using
were producing anxiety, we would have been able to pick it up” on the
behavioral test they administered to rats. They didn’t. Koob suggest this
apparent contradiction may be due to differences in the rat strains
tested or to the two groups use of similar but not identical behavioral
tests to measure “anxiety” in their animals.

In any case, Suzdak says “we hope to develop a more potent analog of
the drug – one that would have no inverse agonist effects at all.” For
now , his group is planning tests with nonhuman primates to see whether
the current drug is useful in blocking the positive reinforcement effects
that encourage alcohol dependence in the chronic heavy drinker.


TOWED, BUT NOT FOR GOOD

UNLICENSED: THE POLICE ARE IMPOUNDING THEIR CARS.

Hundreds of unlicensed drivers in Alameda County have had their cars
towed and impounded for 30 days as a result of a state law that passed
this year. But the toughest part of the law, which allows authorities to
take the cars permanently, has gone virtually unheeded by
authorities.

That part of the law would be too costly to enforce, some departments
say.

In January, about 600 cars a month were taken away because of invalid
licenses, Oakland police Sgt. Arthur Roth said. Now, the figure is closer
to 350, which police say is evidence that the law is working by
discouraging unlicensed drivers.

Fremont police began enforcing the law on May 1 and have impounded at
least 50 cars since then. There have been no efforts to take the cars
permanently.

”For the most part, the cars are junkers anyway,” Traffic Officer
Dan Clark said. ”We put a couple of thousand into it and it’s worth 50
bucks.”

Taking steps to seize the cars permanently could create other
problems, police say.

”We can hold his car for three months. All that towing and storage
accrues for three months and what if the state loses (the case)?,” Roth
said. ”Who’s going to pay for it? And what if you do this for a clunker
car? There’s no incentive to go broke.”

The story is the same in Santa Clara County, where no police
departments have enforced the section of the law that allows them to take
the vehicles of unlicensed drivers who previously have been convicted of
driving without a license.

Legislators who worked to craft the laws might not be pleased with how
the law is playing out.

”What’s really frustrating is that this is something that we know
will save lives, and people aren’t taking advantage of it,” said
Assemblyman Richard Katz, D-Panorama City, author of the Safe Streets Act
of 1994. ”People are dying because of it.” 75% keep driving
illegally

According to the state Department of Motor Vehicles, 720,000
California drivers have their licenses taken away at any given time. An
estimated 75 percent, or 540,000 motorists, continue to drive
illegally.

The DMV reports that more than 20 percent of California drivers
involved in fatal accidents lack valid licenses.

Several local law-enforcement officials said the law is still too new
to tell whether it is making the streets safer. Others, however, point to
the successes other jurisdictions have had with this and similar
measures.

In Richmond, for example, there have been 40 percent fewer hit-and-run
accidents this year compared with the same period in 1994. An unexpected
benefit has been that the number of homicides has declined from 32 to 10.
”We believe it’s the result of a lot of vehicles being off the street,
and people not being able to move around as freely,” said Richmond
police Sgt. Enos Johnson.

In 1993 and 1994, Santa Rosa had a 10-month experimental program in
which it impounded cars of unlicensed drivers. It found a 9 percent drop
in injury accidents, a 14 percent decline in hit-and-run accidents and 20
percent fewer alcohol-related accidents, said Richard Beard, the Santa
Clara County deputy district attorney handling cases filed under the
law.

In many cases, the 30-day impoundment will act as a forfeiture, Beard
said. That’s because many impounded cars are rusty, beat-up hulks. Their
owners often decide it’s not worth the $700 in fees it can cost to have
the vehicles released, towing company employees and police say.

The DMV reports that more than 20 percent of California drivers
involved in fatal accidents lack valid licenses.

The San Jose Police Department began impounding cars in late January,
while it notified towing companies and trained its officers. It has
impounded more than 3,100 cars in the five months since then, but has not
tried forfeiture actions.

”We wanted to get used to one program first before getting into the
other one,” said Sgt. Douglas Bergtholdt, who oversees the department’s
impoundments and forfeitures. He said the agency probably would not begin
trying to forfeit vehicles until the fall, and possibly not until
1996.

Katz said San Jose was not alone. His office found that Long Beach,
San Joaquin County and Beverly Hills were three of the few localities
claiming cars.

Katz said he crafted his law to avoid punishing people twice for the
same crime. A federal appeals court ruled that in some cases, seizing
drug defendants’ property and then prosecuting them was ”double
jeopardy” and unconstitutional.

David Amann, 27, of Mountain View, said he hopes a similar ruling will
spare him.

A California Highway Patrol officer stopped Amann on Friday evening
for driving his 1982 Datsun without a seat belt. He caught a lucky break
and was able to have a friend – who had a license – drive the car from
the tow lot on Monday rather than three weeks later.

”I don’t mind paying my $200 for the tow,” Amann said. ”But if
they’ve impounded my car, I think I’ve already served my punishment for
driving without a license.”


DMV CHIEF QUITS IN DISAGREEMENT

ZOLIN WEATHERED COMPUTER FIASCO BUT WAS AT ODDS WITH WILSON
ADMINISTRATION

Frank Zolin, the embattled director of the state Department of Motor
Vehicles, who made the controversial decision to abandon a troubled $50
million computer project, abruptly resigned Tuesday, citing
irreconcilable differences with top Wilson administration officials.

In a three-page letter to Gov. Pete Wilson, Zolin said he was stepping
aside as director of one of state government’s largest and most visible
agencies because of differences of opinion with Business, Transportation
and Housing Secretary Dean Dunphy and Undersecretary Jeffrey Reid. The
agency oversees the DMV.

He said his differences with Dunphy, a longtime personal friend of the
governor, and Reid stemmed from disagreements over the approach to the
”management and future direction of the department.”

He declined to elaborate other than to say they had not been willing
to move as quickly as he would have liked on revisions in the operation
of the department.

Zolin, 62, one of the first top administrators to be named by Wilson
after his election as governor, became director of the department in
March 1991 after 22 years as executive officer of the Los Angeles County
Superior Court system.

Zolin’s resignation from his $103,000-a-year post is effective Dec. 1.
A replacement has not been named.

In an interview, Zolin said he had not been pressured to resign but
was leaving by ”mutual agreement” with the governor’s chief of staff,
Bob White.

Julie Stewart, a spokeswoman for the agency, said neither Dunphy nor
Reid would have any comment.

One state official, who asked not to be identified, said Zolin had
become increasingly frustrated with what he considered Reid’s
micromanagement and intrusion in the day-to-day affairs of the
department.

”Zolin wanted to focus on customer services while the agency and Reid
were more interested in downsizing and privatization,” the official
said.

Although Zolin was appointed with the understanding that he would
reshape the department, his entire tenure as DMV director was
overshadowed by a massive computer scandal.

When he took over the department it was already deeply involved in a
multimillion-dollar effort to revamp and redesign its computer system.
Zolin later said he learned very quickly that the project was in trouble,
but tried over an 18-month period to save it.

Finally, in December, 1993, deciding the project design was
”fundamentally flawed” he ordered it abandoned. By then the state had
invested $50 million.


MOFFETT POLICE ARREST POWERS ARE HANDCUFFED

In an unusual interpretation of police powers on federal property,
officers at NASA/Ames Research Center in Mountain View are under orders
not to arrest drunken drivers, juveniles or those who commit minor
crimes.

The order comes after the facility’s chief attorney, George Lenehan,
concluded officers with the Moffett Federal Airfield police force a
state- certified department of nearly 20 cops had been overstepping their
boundaries by arresting offenders in misdemeanor cases on federal
property, which he contends conflicts with California laws.

But Lenehan’s conclusion has raised serious concerns within the police
department, neighbor ing law enforcement agencies and a well-known
anti-drunken driving organization. Collectively, they say the department
is handcuffed.

They fear intoxicated drivers from the facility, which has three
drinking establishments, will hit the local streets and flow onto
highways 101, 85 or 237, even if they swerve all over the government
roads in view of officers.

”It’s pretty frightening to us,” said Tom Satterly, executive
director of the Bay Area chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.”I
think it’s a pretty irresponsible thing that’s going on there.”

The order to not arrest juveniles also worries Moffett police, who
note that one of their major cases involved the arrest and conviction of
a 16-year- old Fremont boy who stole $90,000 in traveler’s checks in
January.

The chief is complying with the order, albeit reluctantly.

”I am obviously concerned with how we, NASA, are going to effect the
same level of safety on our roads that the surrounding community has,”
said Mark Miller, head of the protective services division, which
includes the police department. ”I’m not aware of this difficulty at
other NASA facilities.”

Miller referred further questions to his supervisor, Coleman, who
forwarded calls to Lenehan.

”I don’t share his alarm or concern,” Lenehan said.

The police department was converted from a security force last summer,
when the Navy left Moffett and NASA/Ames took over the sprawling
2,000-acre facility. Since July, officers have made many arrests for
felonies and misdemeanors and have jailed 18 suspected drunken
drivers.

Earlier this year, Lenehan began to review federal and state laws, and
in April, he concluded the police shouldn’t arrest anybody for
misdemeanors, which include thefts and reckless driving. Those suspected
of committing a misdemeanor as specified in the state vehicle or penal
codes, he said, will be warned and then escorted to the front gate.

Once there, the offender is free to drive into unincorporated Santa
Clara County, Mountain View or Sunnyvale or onto any one of the three
freeways.

But that may change.

After receiving complaints from the police department and local law
enforcement agencies, Lenehan is trying to arrange for sheriff’s deputies
to arrest or cite misdemeanor offenders at the main gate. The sheriff’s
department has jurisdiction for hundreds of housing units located near
the gate.

”We’re trying to work things out,” said Assistant Sheriff Tom Sing,
who met with Lenehan. ”I don’t like it, of course, but what can I
do?”

Local officials with the California Highway Patrol raised concerns
that Moffett police are forced to let drunks off the base and onto the
highways.

”In the interest of public safety, I think it’s unfair that powers
have been taken away from them,” said Lt. Mike Marlette of the San Jose
office of the CHP, which patrols the highways south of the Ellis Street
gate.

”Unfortunately, for us, there’s not really anything we can do from
our standpoint because that is federal property,” said Lt. Clifford Gray
of the CHP’s Redwood City office.

An aide to Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Atherton, said the
congresswoman’s staff would look into the matter.

‘It’s pretty frightening to us,” said Tom Satterly, executive
director of the Bay Area chapter of Mothers Against Drunk
Driving.”


WHY LAW TO PREVENT DRUNKEN DRIVING FAILS

Two years ago, anti-drunken driving forces were jubilant over a new
law requiring repeat offenders to equip their cars with devices to
prevent them from driving unless sober.

But today, the eagerly sought measure is an abject failure. California
judges, based on exemptions written into the law, aren’t ordering
installation of the device in the bulk of cases.

Because of that, and the weak enforcement of the small number of
orders actually made, the device has been installed in only about 1
percent of an estimated 150,000 eligible cases, according to state
officials, device makers and others.

That means many drinking drivers are able to take to the roadways once
more, risking death or injury to themselves and others.

”There is no excuse for it,” said Kathy Crawford, head of Simple
Solutions for Tragic Losses, a Modesto non-profit agency active in
alcohol- abuse issues. ”We’re talking about, literally, a matter of life
and death.”

”The system lets us down,” said Marty Mattson, public policy chair
of Mothers Against Drunk Driving in California. ”We’ve got a good law in
place now. I don’t know why they don’t use it.”

The devices in question are called ignition interlocks. Would-be
drivers are required to blow into a mouthpiece, and a small unit then
analyzes the breath sample for alcohol. Unless a driver registers a
blood-alcohol level of 0.025 percent or lower, the car won’t start; by
comparison, the legal limit for driving is 0.08 percent.

Drivers must also give breath samples while driving. The interlocks
keep logs of their activity for review by judges and the interlock
provider. In a number of studies, the devices have been found to be
highly effective in keeping drunks off the road and in sharply reducing
the re-arrest rate for repeat offenders.

California’s interlock law went into effect in July 1993. It was
buttressed with follow-up legislation last year after initial
difficulties with enforcement began to emerge. But even after the
attempted cleanup, compliance is abysmal. Ironically, California’s
failure today comes after the state pioneered interlock use in 1986 with
a pilot project.

Reflecting educational campaigns and tougher enforcement,
driving-while- intoxicated arrests, as well as alcohol-related accidents
and deaths, are down sharply in California today. Still, nearly 1,600
people were killed and 43,000 injured in 1993, the latest year for which
figures are available. Of those who continue to be arrested, many are the
chronic offenders at whom the interlock device is targeted.

Reasons why

There’s no single reason for failure of the law, but interviews with
judges, interlock vendors and others indicate the chief explanations are
that:

Offenders are too poor: In one of the most frequently used exceptions,
the law allows judges to waive interlocks in cases of financial hardship.
Many believe the approximately $700 annual cost is too much, especially
when levied on top of stiff fines, and given that many offenders are
low-income to start.

”People, primarily, are in a financial pinch,” said Marshall
Whitley, an Alameda County municipal court judge who said he’s been
forced to abandon, at least temporarily, orders to install interlocks
when offenders document they have little money.

Cars get dumped: The law requires an interlock for cars owned or
operated by the offender, but many offenders often at the urging of their
defense attorneys sell their cars before sentencing. Some of these sales
are bogus sham transfers to relatives who quickly return cars after
sentences are rendered. But judges say that if offenders can document
that they no longer own or have access to a vehicle, interlocks aren’t an
option, whatever suspicions they may harbor.


Man Arrested 7 times for DWI Remains in Prison

In the seven years since his 21st birthday, Joseph Duvall has pleaded
guilty at least five times to drunken driving.

He has spent less than six months in jail and six months in a halfway
house.

When a state trooper arrested Duvall for driving while intoxicated on
June 15 – less than a year after Duvall served three months in jail for a
previous DWI conviction – he was driving with a valid driver’s
license.

Duvall, 28, of 917 Bay St., Denham Springs, has been in Parish Prison
on $100,000 bond since that arrest.

According to court records.

Aug. 12, 1988: Duvall was arrested for DWI by Houma Police, National
Crime Information Computer records show. No other records on that arrest
were available.

Jan. 20, 1990: Duvall arrested by state police for DWI. He was going
68 mph in a 55 mph zone and repeatedly crossed the center line of the
road, the police report said. Duvall again failed the field sobriety
test, but he refused to take a breath test, the report said.

He was arrested for and charged with second-offense DWI, but he
pleaded guilty to first-offense DWI before Judge Hester, who gave him a
30-day suspended sentence and ordered more training programs, a fine and
more community service, according to court records.

June 27, 1991: Baton Rouge police arrested Duvall for second-offense
DWI.

Aug. 25, 1991: Baton Rouge police arrested Duvall for DWI, this time
booking him with fifth-offense DWI, according to police records.

On Jan. 24, 1992, Duvall pleaded guilty before Hester to both counts,
court records show.

July 25, 1993: Duvall arrested by Denham Springs Police, according to
police records. He was booked with fourth-offense DWI and charged by the
21st Judicial District attorney’s office with third-offense DWI,
according to the district attorney’s office spokeswoman Eileen
McCarroll.

Jail records show that Duvall served from April 11, 1994 to July 7,
1994 – about three months – in Livingston Parish Jail.

June 15: A state trooper stopped Duvall on O’Neal Lane for swerving
and weaving, Mistretta said. His driver’s license, which was issued on
Feb. 2, was valid.

Fourth-offense carries a fine of up to $5,000 and a prison sentence of
10 to 30 years, but all but one year can be suspended.

Landrum said she will charge Duvall with the most serious crime she
can.

Holt said that he was considering trying to get Duvall transferred
from jail to a drug and alcohol treatment facility.

“I think that’s what he really needs,” Holt said.


DID DMV TAKE WRONG TURN WITH OLDER DRIVER?

Q My grandmother’s driver’s license expires in January on her 91st
birthday. She’s been notified that she can renew it by mail. Grandma, who
lives in Southern California, has a

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