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Anti-Drunk-Driving Program Expanded Across New York City High Schools

Posted on December 17, 2009 in Adolescent Drug Abuse

 As part of an expanded reality-TV-style program aimed at combating drunk driving, high school students across New York City will hear 911 calls from drunk-driving crashes, watch gory videos, and listen to convicted felons.

Dorian Block of the Daily News writes that "Choices and Consequences" has been bringing victims’ families and physical evidence to high school auditoriums in Brooklyn since 1998, but has now been expanded to the whole city.

"Everyone loves ‘CSI,’ but with this, they see how tragic it is and that it’s real," said Maureen McCormick, the prosecutor who created the program. "The purpose of doing this county to county is that we use accidents that happened where these kids live. It isn’t someplace else. This happened three blocks away to kids just like you,” she added.

The program is one of a series of initiatives that were announced Tuesday at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx to coincide with Leandra’s Law, which goes into effect in New York on Friday. Leandra’s Law is named after Leandra Rosado, 11, who was killed in October in a crash that occurred when a friend’s mother was driving drunk.

As of Friday, it is a felony to drive drunk with a child in the car, and all convicted DWI offenders will be mandated to install ignition interlocks in their cars that would require drivers to take a Breathalyzer test to start a car.

"We are saying to the rest of the country that we put our children first," said Kathleen Hogan, president of the state’s District Attorney’s Association. "If you choose to drink and drive, you are acting recklessly. If you choose to drink and drive with a child in the car, that is reprehensible conduct,” she said.

Also unveiled Tuesday was a powerful traveling multi-media exhibit of drunk-driving accidents involving children, and a statewide expansion of a physics and math curriculum called "CRASH!"

The program, sponsored by the Allstate Foundation, gives kids police reports from real traffic accidents to answer questions such as how far a car traveled while its driver looked away, or how fast a car was going before the driver hit the brakes. The program has already been tested in a couple of dozen schools, but the foundation is expanding it to 225 schools in New York, including 50 in the city this coming year.

Lenny Rosado, who fought for and helped create the law named after his daughter Leandra, was given a standing ovation after he spoke about his daughter and his lobbying efforts in Albany.

"I want to make sure these people pay the price and stay in jail for a long time," he said. "Things are going to change, come Friday."

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