The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

TRIO students hear dangers of impaired driving


December 6, 2018

Richard Jenkins/Daily Globe

GCC STUDENT Brittany Walters attempts to complete a sobriety test while wearing goggles that simulates the effect of being under the influence Wednesday during a presentation by local Michigan State Police troopers.


Ironwood - While the members of Gogebic Community College's TRIO program have undoubtedly heard they shouldn't drink and drive before, Michigan state police troopers explained why during a "Eat, don't drink and be merry" lunch and learn program Wednesday.

Along with the potential risk to themselves and others, the troopers said drunk driving can also be an expensive mistake.

"They say on average your first drunk driving, will cost you about $10,000 by the time everything is said and done," Trooper Joe Renaud said. "They're taking into account insurance, court costs, towing - they're talking everything."

Jerry Mazurek, the community service trooper with the MSP's Wakefield Post, added any additional charges or circumstances only adds to the costs.

"You include those kind of things - where it involves an accident, somebody's injured, somebody dies - then the penalties start going up from there," Mazurek said.

Renaud and Mazurek walked the students through the process of a drunk driving traffic stop and subsequent arrest, giving several the opportunity to attempt to pass a field sobriety test while wearing goggles designed to recreate being intoxicated.

They also said many people, particularly when there is an accident that injured someone else, express deep regret and have to live with the fact they made the decision to drink and drive.

In response to a question regarding the recent legalization of marijuana in Michigan, Renaud pointed out that regardless of legal status; driving while impaired by marijuana is just as illegal as driving while drunk for those over the age of 21 or driving on the influence of prescription pills.

Renaud and Mazurek also spoke of the choice some people make to gamble and assume they can get home without meeting any police officers.

Renaud said he and his partner have had over 40 drunk driving arrests so far this year, and the number would be much higher when those by the other troopers, Gogebic County Sheriff's Department, Ironwood Public Safety Department and various agencies in Iron County, Wis., are factored in.

While there's a chance people may get home safely, it's a big gamble with serious consequences if they aren't lucky.

The two troopers spoke to students as part of TRIO program's ongoing Lunch and Learn program. Other topics that have been featured include personal finance, the importance of making smart choices and study skills.

"We got invited up by the college. They asked if we could talk on this topic, specifically because it's going to the end of the semester," Mazurek said, adding the holidays are a time when students are often socializing with family and friends and may be drinking.

He said the goal of the talk was to give the students the bigger picture regarding driving while impaired and the consequences of their actions.

The TRIO program is grant-funded and works with students with disabilities, certain income levels or first-generation college students.


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