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. Friday, November 19. 1982The Daily Tar Heel5
fLMJDi &ji use; prevaieiii at
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Orange Co.. shows rise
JUL M VQ-J. OJLJLfl.
By SHAWN MCINTOSH
A study of Orange County records shows that the number
of fatal car accidents caused by drunken driving have in
creased in the last 10 years. And statistics also revealed that
more of the victims were between the ages of 16 and 21.
Among people killed in Orange County traffic accidents,
there has been an increase in the percentage with blood
alcohol levels high enough to make a legal presumption of
drunkenness. The comparisons were made between equal
42-month periods starting in January, 1972.
Records at the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
show that in the first period, ending June 1975, the 71 traffic
fatalities in Orange County included 15 or 21 percent
who exceeded the legal level of intoxication.
During the same period, ending in 1978, there were 45 kill
ed and 12 were legally drunk, an increase to 27 percent.
.' The percentage of victims who were intoxicated jumped to
' 36 percent in the final period that ended last June.1 Of the :
total 69 victims, 25 exceeded the legal level of intoxication.
These are cases when alcohol in the bloodstream could
definitely be measured. Other cases in which the alcohol con
tent could not be measured account for still more of the vic
tims, so the number of alcohol-related car deaths could be
"In a homicide or something like that when the body
might not be discovered right away, that would have to be
considered," said Diane Wold, a statistician at the office of
the Chief Medical Examiner. , . '
Many victims of traffic accidents found to have alcohol in
their blood actually have levels below that of intoxication.
Wold explained that a delay in taking the blood sample gave
the blood time to detoxify so the lower levels were not always
accurate indicators of intoxication at the time of death. .
While these numbers don't prove the presence of more
drunken drivers in Orange County,. the possibility exists.
The circumstances surrounding the death of one of the vic
tims were described in a medical examiner's report:
"Car ... left roadway on right side and decedant (the de
ceased) apparently over-compensated and car pulled sharply
to the left and overturned. Passenger injured but survived.
Quantity of non-revenue whiskey found in auto," the report
The report also said the victim, a 28-year-old textile
worker from Roxboro, had .24 percent alcohol in his blood
stream, more than twice the legal level of intoxication, 0.1
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, a section of the
state Division of Health Services, keeps reports of every
death in the state. It is also where toxicology reports are
stored if they are made. Toxicology reports tell the blood
level of alcohol in the deceased.
Wold said ethanol in the bloodstream, usually proof of
drinking, can also be caused by decomposition of a dead
body. But that is rarely the case in auto accidents, she said.
Master Officer Gregg Jarvies, who is in charge of the DUI
Grant Program at the Chapel Hill Police Department, said
he wasn't surprised at the increase in alcohol-related fatali
ties. He said he thought that was- the trend statewide and na
tionally, although the local figures might be inflated slightly.
"I think our figures might be a bit higher because of the
number of young people here who drink," Jarvies said.
"The younger the populace, the higher the percentage of
DUI-related traffic fatalities."
' Since 1972 more than half of the victims of traffic acci
" dents in Orange County found with alcohol in their systems
below 0.1 percent were between 16 and 21 years old.
' That age range also had a higher percentage of alcohol
content above the intoxication level than did the general
population for that period, although the numbers are not
large enough to insure a statistically significant finding.'
For the 0Vt year period, 28 percent of the victims were in
toxicated. In the 16 to 21 age group, the likelihood of drunk
enness was 33 percent. .
A breakdown of the time span shows that in the first
period, 20 percent, or five of 25 victims, were legally drunk
in the 16 to 21 age group. That number rose to 44 percent, or
8 of 18, during the second period. Between 1979 and June of
1982, the percentage of intoxicated young victims in Orange
County dropped slightly to 42 percent, or five of 12.
One of those victims, a 1 year-old student, had more than
two times the amount of alcohol which signals intoxication in
her bloodstream, the medical examiner's report said.
"(Victim) had been to local bar and was driving at very
rapid rate,'.' the report said. "The car hit right shoulder of
road and then pulled back onto highway and then went down
into woods. The odor of alcohol was very strong beer and
whiskey bottles in car ... a seat belt would probably have
been lifesaving as the car was not that badly crushed."
Of the 52 traffic accident fatalities since 1972 involving in
toxicated victims, not one of the victims who was in a car
(rather than a motorcycle or a pedestrian situation) was re
corded as having a safety belt on.
By JOHN CONWAY .
UNC and Chapel Hill are not the only places in the region
faced with alcohol consumption problems. University police of
ficials and student government officers at four major Southern
universities say alcohol usage among students is widespread and
the potential for serious alcohol abuse problems exists at their
Student government officials at Florida State, Louisiana State,
Auburn and Clemson universities all said that consumption of
alcohol by students ranged from moderate to excessive.
"We live in a liquid society," said Carol Hemming, volunteer
for the FSU Campus Alcohol Information Center. "It (FSU) is
like any other campus. When they (students) aren't studying, they
like to be drinking." Hemming said the university could establish
"more rigorous restrictions" to curtail excessive consumption.
Alcohol consumption at FSU, located in Tallahassee, is
restricted by Horida's legal drinking age of 19 for beer, wine and
liquor. In addition, sororities at FSU prohibit the drinking of
alcohol in their houses, but fraternities have a conflicting alcohol
policy that encourages consumption, Hemming said.
Because Tallahassee is predominantly a college town, many
taverns cater especially to students, thus increasing the availability
of alcohol, Hemming said. Beer and wine also are sold in the FSU
Student Union. .
FSU Police Lt. Charles Hanley said most alcohol-related ar
rests involved drivmg-whUe-intoxicated charges. However, the
majority of offenders were not FSU students but local residents,
Presently, the Horida state legislature is pushing for a bill that
would raise the legal drinking age from 19 to 21 years. If this law
passed, "it would help curtail the drinking problem," Hemming
said. ; ;
Louisiana, the home of Louisiana State University in Baton
Rouge, has more lenient drinking restrictions than do Florida and
FSU. The legal drinking age in Louisiana is 18 for all alcohol.
-'The whole image of Southern Louisiana is carefree and
loose," LSU Student Government Association Vice President
Linda Hooks said. "It's a very happy; tolerant atmosphere.' But
that very "tolerant atmosphere" has promoted some alcohol
abuse problems at LSU .which could become' much more
widespread and serious, Hooks said.
In an effort to combat increasing numbers of alcohol-related
accidents in the state, Louisiana Governor David Treen recently
signed into law a pack of DWI legislation that made the penalties
for conviction harsher. First offenders now serve a mandatory
two days in jail or three days public service.
Baton Rouge has an open container ordinance, like Chapel
Hill, prohibiting open containers of alcohol on city streets and
This semester, LSU began a crackdown on the enforcement of
several drinking ordinances. Any campus parties or functions at
which alcohol is served must be registered with the dean of stu-'
dent life, and an alternative beverage must be provided.
Although LSU has the image of being a "party school," the
Student Government. Association and Residence Housing
Association have attempted to increase students' awareness about
their drinking habits, Hooks said. Last week the Louisiana State
RHA sponsored an Alcohol Awareness Week, and the Student
Affairs Office recently hired an alcohol awareness coordinator.
"They (LSU students) like to party, but not to the extent of
. free-flowing alcohol," LSU Assistant Police Chief Randy Watts
said. Students account for only 20 percent of the DWI arrests
made by university police he said. : C
At Auburn Uniersity in Alabama, the Alcohol Awareness In
formation Center has mounted a campaign to promote responsi
ble drinking, Robin West, the center's director, said.
"Auburn's overall reputation is conservative," she said. "But
yes, we are a party school." v !
One local Auburn student bar sponsored an alcohol test for
students after they had consumed a few beers or drinks. Several
students were surprised at their condition, which was registered by
the device as either pass, warning or fail, West said.
The. availability and widespread use of alcohol in Auburn was
reflected by alcohol-related accident and arrest statistics compiled
by the Auburn City Police. Throughout 1981, a total of 830 traf
. fie accidents were reported, resulting in one fatality. Officers
made 468 DUI arrests and investigated 127 alcohol-related ac
cidents. Of the 468 DUI arrests made by Auburn Police, 458 in
. volved students. That is 97.8 percent, compared to about 50 per
cent in Chapel Hill.
West said the alcohol awareness center had been "very suc
cessful," and had consulted with at least a couple of students each
. day. ' ; - - : ,:-V'- "' .
. Clemson University has more stringent restrictions concerning
alcohol use on campus. University regulations prohibit the con
sumption of alcohol in dormitories, except on special occasions
with university approval. Fraternities are housed on university
owned property and must respect university policies.
Students found to be in violation of alcohol policies are re
ferred to the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Committee. But Clemson
SGA Senate President Keith Munson said the committee was
"very inactive." ". , ."' :V:.'",-.--; -:;;vA '
. "There's a lot of (alcohol) usage,' Munson said, '.'but I don't
think there is a problem." Munson said, there were few student ar
rests made for DUI, but there is some problem with alcohol usage
at football games. In fact, violation of the drinking ordinance is
so widespread that a local magistrate has a trailer behind the
stadium to process public consumption fines, Munson said. -
alcohol task fo
u, ;-v, By LYNN. EARLEY. .
Assistant State and National Editor. . ;
" Gov. Jim Hunt's crackdown on drink
ing drivers reached the written stage Tues
day as the Governor's Task Force on'
Drunken Drivers presented its 30 pro
posals for revising North Carolina's drink
The 27-member task force recommend
ed raising the current drinking age of 18 to
19, writing a new driving-while-impaired
law and eliminating plea bargaining in
In February 1982 the Governor's Crime
Commission recommended raising the
minimum drinking age to 21. The Gover
nor's Deputy Press Secretary, Brent
Hackney, said Tuesday that Hunt "hasn't
decided which age he's going to go to."
"The rationale of the task force is that
you can't really enforce it above 19, 20,
21," he said.
Quentin Anderson, public relations
director for' the Carolina Motor Club,
agreed. On Nov. 8, the Carolina Motor
Club's board of directors said it supported
raising the drinking age from 18 to 19 in
North Carolina and South Carolina.
y t triir"that they (the'taslctorce) would J;
have gone to trie higher age," Anderson
said Tuesday, "but I think they thought
after kids got off to college it would be
harder to enforce. If the governor's task
force had recommended a higher age, we
would certainly have supported that.'
". The State Alcoholic Beverage Control
Commission also will support the move,
Assistant Administrator for . North
Carolina Bill Powell said. "We will en
force any laws that are passed by the
legislative body,' he said.
In February, however, Bill Hester of the
ABC Commission said the Crime
Commission's proposal to raise the drink
ing age to 21 would cause problems.
, "From the state ABC Commission's
point of view," he said at that time, "it is
very difficult to police the problem now.
And if they take away the privileges from
-those who are enjoying them, it will be
even more difficult."
On Tuesday, Powell said, "You've got
a -mass amount of people college
students in particular that you're going
to ban from drinking.''
Locke Clifford, Chairman of the
Criminal Justice Section of the North
Carolina Bar. ACKtion andlnember oT
the task - force, - said -the 'proposals "would
affect people other than students because
of the enforcement and punishment sec
tions. "There are plenty of people out there
that this act is going to hurt," he said, add
ing that a bill containing the proposals
would hurt "anyone who drives drunk
and there are a lot of them out there."
Some of the punishment recommenda
tions included immediate 10-day loss of
license for driving with a blood alcohol
content of 0.1 percent or higher, man
datory jail sentences of one to two weeks
in extreme cases and restrictions on plea
Hackney said a person charged with
driving under the' influence would no
longer be able to plead guilty to a lesser of
fense, such as reckless driving. Instead, the
person would be tried under the original
charge if the recommendations were writ
ten into the statutes.
Clifford said, "Sympathy for the de
fense is not a factor anymore and it has
always been a factor before."
See CRACKDOWN on page 6
d alcoholic di
By DEEEI SYKES
Editor's note: The name of the interviewee has
been changed at her request.
Tricia hopes to be a writer. She is articulate and
But -Tricia's humor is wry. It is sometimes
cynical, evoking harsh memories.
Tricia is an alcoholic. Her problem has taken her
along difficult paths, but she has learned to smile.
She is eager to talk about her past; her words spill
over one another. As she talks about alcohol, words
such as "unreal," "devastation" and "hell" reoc
cur. Tricia is 30 years old. Her first encounter with
alcohol was at 14. She grew up in Chapel Hill,
where she said the presence of alcohol was strong.
She remembers watching fraternity brothers pop
tops off beer cans from the playground of her
Tricia discovered that she could" be a different
person when she drank. Instead of being awkward
and a shy outsider, she was talkative and funny.
People noticed her.
Alcohol totally altered her personality. She
changed from an obedient child to a rebellious
"It (alcohol) is a drug," she said. "It alters your
consciousness. You're not going to be yourself."
Tricia left home at 16. She spent the years be
tween high school graduation and college with
alcohol. She was initially refused by colleges because
she appeared too immature and impulsive.
In the meantime, her life revolved around drugs
and alcohol, she said. When Tricia did go to college,
she applied herself with almost superhuman feroci
ty. She tried to overcome a deeply ingrained feeling
of inadequacy by earning good grades.
She attended four colleges over the years and
maintained a 3.7 grade point average.
At first she majored in voice a fiercely com
petitive field. "I was through before I started," she
said. She was afraid to test herself and relied on.
alcohol as a crutch.
She turned to many sources for help in trying to
cope with her problem. She talked to preachers and
psychologists, studied religions and tried hyp
notherapy. But she found help through Alcoholics
Tricia laughed at the way her words sounded
when she praised the organization. "I called AA
and my life changed' she mimicked laughingly.
Attending AA was a big step for Tricia. She rebelled
against recognizing that she had a problem.
"You don't want to admit that you're powerless,
that you can't control your destiny," Tricia said.
But it was through AA that Tricia began to lead a
normal life. "I was sure I had found the solution to
loneliness and isolation," she said. "I could have .
dreams. Life was worth living."
Then Tricia began to drift away from the AA
program. "I can get high once in a while," she
would say. "I thought I wasn't an alcoholic."
During this period she acted erratically. She
dropped out of school and then re-enrolled. Tricia
again pushed herself into living life at a furious
pace. She made As in school, held down a part-time
job, led two choirs and she stayed bombed.
At this stage Tricia felt like she was living in hell.
Her activities began to take their toll on her. She
spent many mornings lying in bed with cotton in her
ears and an icepack on her head. She thought
demons were after her. "You want to take' a gun
and blow .your brains away because you feel so
bad," Tricia said.
She didn't care about anything, and she found
the apathy so intolerable in herself that she drank
more and more.
Tricia realized that she was on the verge of a ner
vous breakdown. She knew that she would end up
dead, in jail or hospitalized in a mental ward.
One morning she woke up and aid, "Who are
you kidding? You can't do this." Her second
recovery was easier than her first because she knew
where to find help.
: She credited a man in the AA group with helping
her through her years of struggling.
When Tricia stopped attending AA meetings, he
disregarded the break and let her know that he
would remain her friend.
No professional she talked to had the insights he
had, she said. "He. gave me enough rope to hang
myself, but not enough to kill me."
Tricia said much of AA's success stemmed from
the fact that its members have a common problem.
"They have come down' the same kind of road
the road to insanity and destruction," she said.
Now Tricia is discovering the joys of life that
many people take for granted, she said.
"I feel like I'm 16 sometimes," she said. "But I
don't care anymore. I never got to a comfortable
16." She is taking time off from school now and
plans to work until she decides about a major. She is
certain, however, that she will complete her
bachelor's degree, someday.
In the meantime, she hopes to help others
through sharing her story. Her voice warmed and
ner eyes widened when she talked about using her
writing talents to help others.
. Tricia is delighted that her life has steadied to a
normal pace. Now she envisions bringing something
creative out of the muddle of her past.
She drew a parallel between her life and a bumper
sticker she recently saw. It read: "Do you want your
life to be a mess or a message?"
Tricia has answered that question for herself.
' ( ' ' )
Art by Robin Williams
Editor's note: The Daily Tar Heel would like to thank Shawn Mcintosh, professors Phil Meyer and
Robert Stevenson, the UNC School of Journalism, Lucie Minuto and Kenneth C. Mills for their help in