Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A New Way To Attack An Old Problem: Gorilla Marketing And Driving While Intoxicate

The New York Times on Tuesday highlighted a new initiative to stop Drunk Driving in this article.It seems that the Bennington VT. Police Department has hit on an idea that may just work. Stopping drivers from becoming intoxicated and you won't have to arrest them. Now that's a novel idea.

What the department does is it hands out beer glasses to participating bars. The glasses have the police logo on them. It makes the driver think about how much he is drinking. Now there is a concept that might work.

According to Lieutenant Doucette who is in charge of the program this is how the "Pint Patrol" works:

"It was my idea that we try to do something to promote highway safety," said Lt. Paul Doucette of the BPD. "One of the ways we let people know we're out there is through increased visibility. We don't want people driving impaired at all."

The pint glasses are being distributed to a variety of bars and restaurants around town and will be put into circulation on Friday. The 160 glasses were made by local company Catamount Glass and donated to the police force. The glasses come with four different pictures on them — the BPD patch, the BPD special response team patch, the BPD K-9 logo and the BPD 150th anniversary badge logo.

Doucette said the logos are there to help remind people that police are on the streets in full force during the holiday season.

"Around the holidays, people tend to drink a little more," Doucette said. "And that's OK, just as long as they have somebody to drive them home."

I think this is an idea that will work. Last winter and again this Thanksgiving I handed out leaflets on cars that warned drivers/bargoers that police in the area had stepped up their DWI patrols. The leaflet had information about safety and a description of our law firm. It also had a rights card with our office information on the other side which had it been handed to a police officer would have invoked our prospective client's right to an attorney before being questioned.

The result of the leaflet was interesting. It seems that because we were putting them on windshields almost as quickly as drivers pulled into the parking lot, arrests were around the area where the bars were located. People realized that a night of drinking to excess could land them in jail. I was surprised at how many people had not already selected a designated driver and how approaching them on their way into the bar made them think about it before they wound up in the back of a police car, or worse. I also learned it was a good community gift but not a really good way to get clients, at least not that night.

In reality, I feel like I helped save a few lives on those nights we handed out the card. I hand them out now at High schools where I speak and we plan on handing them out at a few bars this winter and spring as the mood strikes. If it saves one person from doing something stupid for one night of their lives and maybe saves a life or limb of another, well then it is worth it. Here is another important quote from Lieutenant Doucette:
"I'm not just about going out and arresting people," Doucette said. "I'm hoping we have a very safe holiday season without any major accidents related to alcohol."

Imagine what the effect would be if MADD volunteers would do this every Thursday Friday and Saturday night, rather than trying to put the alcohol and bar business out of business? Oh yeah, if they really wipe out Driving While Intoxicated, how will their directors and managers make a living?
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