Sheriff Brad Hoxit, VP Sharon Hanson, Ellen Pitt WNC Regional DUI Task Force, Ron Kauffman, President at "Robbinsville HS Don't Drink & Drive" program.
With high school graduations just around the corner, Lt. James Hyde of the Graham County Sheriff’s Office wanted to provide local high school students with a program that would show them the impact of consuming alcohol during and after the prom, then getting behind the wheel of a car. Lt. Hyde found a company, Drunk Busters, that makes goggles that simulate the effects of alcohol impairment resulting after as little as one alcoholic drink, even if the person’s blood alcohol concentration level may be low. When worn, the six different pairs of goggles simulate various conditions including reduced alertness, slowed reaction time, confusion, visual distortion, alteration of depth & distance perception, reduction of peripheral vision, poor judgment and decision-making, double vision, and lack of muscular coordination. Having heard of the work that the nonprofit, STAND T.A.L.L. does with law enforcement in western N.C., Lt. Hyde reached out to Ron Kauffman, president of the nonprofit to request funding to purchase the Drunk Buster goggles. According to Kauffman, “The members of our Board immediately approved this project in the hopes of educating these young people of the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol, and possibly saving some young person’s life as a result.” The challenges set up for these young high school students who volunteered to participate in the educational training program varied with the “strength” and purpose of the goggles. Students were first asked to do activities like driving a golf cart on a short driving obstacle course with safety cones that require weaving through them without the goggles on a paved parking lot. Then they repeat the activity while wearing goggles to show how impaired even one drink can make you. Other “sober vs. impaired activities” included standard field sobriety tests like walking a straight line while counting the steps, catching a ball with one hand, timed coin and housekey pickup from the ground, and various other sobriety tests. Without the Drunk Buster goggles the students were able to easily complete these varied tasks but failed every challenge while being “impaired” by wearing the goggles. Lt. Hyde stated, “We’re very grateful to Ron and his team for stepping up and purchasing this specialized program equipment for us. Our youth are among our most valuable community treasures. Showing them first-hand what just one drink might do to impair them, especially with prom night just a few weeks away, may provide a lesson that they will carry with them for years to come – “Don’t Drink & Drive.” We simply couldn’t have made this happen without the help of STAND T.A.L.L.” Ron Kauffman went on to say,
“This was our first foray into this type of program. We would like to have Graham County residents and other area communities donate to help us fund similar programs in virtually every high school in western North Carolina. Our goal, with the help and generosity of our donors, is to continue to make a positive difference in our communities through various projects like this one throughout western North Carolina.”
If you’d like to learn more about STAND T.A.L.L. please visit our website above. To become a volunteer or be considered for Board membership, please contact Ron Kauffman at 828-393-0900 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome your involvement. As you read this newsletter, you can see that we are totally dependent upon you for financial support that allows us to continue our work with law enforcement and the community.