Drinking Games Themed Parties Increase Alcohol Consumption

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                      Vol. 1, No. 2, April 2008
Drinking Games, Themed Parties Increase Alcohol Consumption, Report Finds
January 4, 2008
Researchers who visited college parties to observe drinking patterns concluded that
gatherings that featured drinking games or specific themes tended to result in more
alcohol consumption.

The study from researchers at San Diego State University (SDSU) and the University of
Michigan was based on observations and questioning of 1,304 young adults who
attended 66 college parties.

"Most studies use survey methods that require people to recall their drinking behavior –
days, weeks or months prior – and such recall is not always accurate," said J.D. Clapp,
director of the Center for Alcohol and Drug Studies and Services at SDSU and
corresponding author for the study. "By going out into the field and doing observations
and surveys, including breath tests for alcohol concentrations, we were able to mitigate
many of the problems associated with recall of behavior and complex settings."

"Both individual behavior and the environment matter when it comes to student-drinking
behavior," added Clapp. "At the individual level, playing drinking games and having a
history of binge drinking predicted higher [BAC readings]. At the environmental level,
having a lot of intoxicated people at a party and themed events predicted higher [BAC

Clapp added that researchers also found that "young women drank more heavily than
males at themed events. It is rare to find any situation where women drink more than
men, and these events tended to have sexualized themes and costumes."
The study was published in the January 2008 issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical &
Experimental Research.

Teens Who Drink to Deal with Anger Called High-Risk
January 4, 2008
Teens who reported that they sometimes drink alcohol to cope with anger or frustration
were more likely to exhibit a range of high-risk drinking behaviors, USA Today reported
Dec. 25.

Researchers who conducted a national survey of 1,877 high-school seniors found that
36 percent reported drinking just to experiment, while 32 percent said they drank for the
thrill of the experience, and 15 percent said they used alcohol to relax.

However, 18 percent of seniors cited multiple reasons for drinking, including to deal with
anger or frustration, and these students were more likely to get drunk during the day,
get drunk frequently, and to have started drinking by the sixth grade. Zila Sloboda of the
International Society for Prevention Research said that such drinkers may not be
receptive to prevention messages that focus on the dangers of alcohol use, but could
respond to interventions that help them deal with their frustrations.

The study led by Lori Palen of Pennsylvania State University appears in the December
2007 issue of the journal Prevention Science.

Many Kids Sip Alcohol Before Age 10, Study Finds
January 7, 2008
About 40 percent of children ages 8 to 10 have tried alcohol, often without the
knowledge of their parents, according to a new study.

HealthDay News reported Jan. 4 that most of the children said they had only tasted
alcohol, not consumed an entire drink. But about one-third of parents whose children
reported alcohol use had no idea they had done so.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan surveyed
452 children and their families via telephone.

"If one only asked about drinks, one would have the impression that few children at
these ages have had experience with alcohol, whereas the reality is that nearly seven
times as many have had some experience," said researcher John Donovan of the
University of Pittsburgh. "Second, alcohol is most often sipped by children in the family
context or during religious services, and almost never with friends or when alone. Third,
children in families in which the parents drink are at greater risk for having sipped or
tasted alcohol as young as age eight or 10."

However, the researchers said that sipping alcohol at a young age did not appear to be
associated with any other problem behaviors.

The study was published in the January 2008 issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical
and Experimental Research.

Perceptions of level of intoxication and risk related to drinking and driving

Jessica L. Gustin and Jeffrey S. Simons, Addictive Behaviors
Volume 33, Issue 4, April 2008, Pages 605-615

This study investigated variables of perceived risk associated with one's decision to
drink and drive, as well as with the occurrence and successfulness of intervention
efforts by others in preventing individuals from drinking and driving. Undergraduate
students were presented with scenarios manipulating number of drinks, consumption
time, and distance needed to drive. Participants then provided estimates of intoxication,
degree of impairment, and likelihood of getting in an accident and getting arrested for
drinking and driving. In addition, participants rated three criterion variables: intention to

drive, likelihood someone would try to intervene, and receptiveness to someone
attempting to intervene. Data was analyzed using three random effects regression
models, one for each of the criterion variables. Results indicated that perceptions of risk
were associated with decisions to drive after drinking and expected likelihood of, and
receptiveness to, intervention efforts, over and above one's estimate of intoxication.

Interlock Devices Cut DWI Recidivism
February 13, 2008
New research shows that first-time drunk-driving offenders whose cars were fitted with
ignition-interlock devices were 60 percent less likely to reoffend than those who were
not ordered to install the devices, which prevent a car from being started when the
driver has any amount of alcohol in their body.

Researcher Paul Marques, Ph.D., of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation
said that the study backed up previous research on the use of ignition-interlock devices
and countered studies that questioned the effectiveness of using the devices with first-
time offenders.

"The idea that there should be any important difference between the risk posed by a first
offender and a repeat offender is unsupported," Marques said. "The average first
offender has driven drunk many times before he or she was arrested. The big risk
difference is between non-offenders and first offenders. The risk difference between first
offenders and repeat offenders is small by comparison."

Marques and colleagues also estimated that the public saves $3 for every $1 spent on
interlock devices. "Interlocks present an opportunity to help change behavior rather than
simply punishing or incarcerating the offender," Marques said. "It's not enough to revoke
a license -- 75 percent of all people with revoked licenses drive anyway -- but you don't
want to sentence an entire family to poverty if they're dependent on that driver getting to
and from his or her job. By installing an interlock, the risk that the DWI offender poses is
controlled, and interlocks become a public benefit."

The study compared two groups of first-time DWI offenders in New Mexico. It was
published in the December 2007 issue of the journal Traffic Injury Prevention.

Why Do High School Seniors Drink? Implications for a Targeted Approach to
Donna L. Coffman, Megan E. Patrick, Lori Ann Palen, Brittany L. Rhoades and
Alison K. Ventura, Prevention Science 8(4):241-248.

 The transition from high school to college provides a potentially critical window to
intervene and reduce risky behavior among adolescents. Understanding the motivations
(e.g., social, coping, enhancement) behind high school seniors’ alcohol use could
provide one important avenue to reducing risky drinking behaviors. In the present study,
latent class analysis was used to examine the relationship between different patterns of
drinking motivations and behaviors in a sample of 12th graders (N = 1,877) from the
2004 Monitoring the Future survey. Unlike previous variable-centered analyses, this
person-centered approach identifies types of motivations that cluster together within
individuals and relates membership in these profiles to drinking behaviors.

Results suggest four profiles of drinking motivations for both boys and girls, including
Experimenters, Thrill-seekers, Multi-reasoners, and Relaxers. Early initiation of alcohol
use, past year drunkenness, and drinking before 4 P.M. were associated with greater
odds of membership in the Multi-reasoners class as compared to the Experimenters
class. Although the strength of these relationships varied for boys and girls, findings
were similar across gender suggesting that the riskiest drinking behavior was related to
membership in the Multi-reasoners class. These findings can be used to inform
prevention programming. Specifically, targeted interventions that tailor program content
to the distinct drinking motivation profiles described above may prove to be effective in
reducing risky drinking behavior among high school seniors.

Evaluation of the use and benefit of passive alcohol sensors during routine traffic
Fell JC; Compton C
Annual Proceedings / Association For The Advancement Of Automotive Medicine.
2007; Vol. 51, pp. 437-48.

Past studies have demonstrated that police officers fail to detect a substantial proportion
of alcohol-impaired drivers during traffic enforcement and that the use of passive
alcohol sensors (PAS) could increase the driving-under-the-influence (DUI) arrest rate.
Does the use of a PAS in routine traffic enforcement by officers without specialized DUI
training increase the detection and arrest rate of alcohol-impaired drivers? In Anne
Arundel County, Maryland, the Police Department provided the PAS devices to 24
randomly selected officers, divided equally between two squads of 12 officers each (one
squad with the PAS and one squad without). After both squads made approximately
500 traffic stops each, the squads switched roles with regard to using the PAS, and the
pattern was repeated. Overall, there were no significant differences in the DUI arrest
rate between the officers with the PAS and the officers without the PAS, although there
was evidence that the PAS helped some officers increase their DUI arrests. In
summary, the PAS is probably best used at sobriety checkpoints rather than during
routine stops.

The relationship of 16 underage drinking laws to reductions in underage drinking
drivers in fatal crashes in the United States.

Fell JC; Fisher DA; Voas RB; Blackman K; Tippetts AS
Annual Proceedings / Association For The Advancement Of Automotive Medicine.
Association For The Advancement Of Automotive Medicine [Annu Proc Assoc Adv
Automot Med] 2007; Vol. 51, pp. 537-57.

The minimum legal drinking age 21 (MLDA 21) legislation in the United States (U.S.)
has been documented as one of the most effective public health measures adopted in
recent times. This study reports on an effort to evaluate and interrelate a basic set of 16
laws directed at younger than age 21 youth that are designed to (a) control the sales of
alcohol to youth, (b) prevent possession and consumption of alcohol by youth, and (c)
prevent alcohol impaired driving by those younger than age 21. The first objective of this
study was to determine whether there was any relationship between the existence and
strength of the various underage drinking laws in a State and the percentage of younger

than age 21 drivers involved in fatal crashes who were drinking. After controlling for
various factors, the only significant finding that emerged was for the existence and
strength of the law making it illegal for an underage person to use fake identification ( p

The second objective was to determine if the enactment of two of the sixteen provisions
(possession and purchase laws) was associated with a reduction in the rate of
underage drinking driver involvements in fatal crashes. Analysis of variance (ANOVA)
showed that there was a national 11.2% reduction ( p <0.05) in the ratio of underage
drinking drivers to underage non-drinking drivers in fatal crashes after the possession
and purchase laws were adopted in 36 States and the District of Columbia (DC). This
suggests that the two mandatory elements of the Federal MLDA 21 law are having the
desired effect of reducing underage alcohol-related highway deaths.

Fatigue and Beyond: Patterns of and Motivations for Illicit Drug Use Among Long-
Haul Truck Drivers
Davey J; Richards N; Freeman J
Traffic Injury Prevention 2007 Sep; Vol. 8 (3), pp. 253-9.

OBJECTIVES: The present study aimed to investigate the illicit drug use patterns of
long-distance truck drivers. This population is considered to be a special interest group
in terms of drug-driving research and policy due to high rates of use, involvement of
drugs in truck accidents, and the link between drug use and work-related fatigue.
METHODS: Qualitative interview data were collected from 35 long-haul truck drivers in
Southeast Queensland and analyzed through grounded theory techniques. Interviews
were conducted at truck stops and loading facilities in both metropolitan and regional
cites throughout Queensland. RESULTS: High rates of licit and illicit drug use
(particularly amphetamines) were reported by the majority of the sample. However,
unlike previous studies that focus on fatigue, this research found overlapping and
changing motivations for drug use during individual lifetimes. Becker's model of a drug
use "career" was utilized to reveal that some drivers begin illicit drug use before they
commence truck driving. As well as fatigue, powerful motives such as peer pressure,
wanting to fit the trucking "image," socialization, relaxation, and addiction were also
reported as contributing factors to self-reported drug driving. CONCLUSIONS: The
results indicate that these additional social factors may need to be considered and
incorporated with fatigue factors when developing effective drug prevention or cessation
policies for truck drivers.

Correlates of driving under the influence of cannabis
Jones CG; Swift W; Donnelly NJ; Weatherburn DJ
Drug And Alcohol Dependence d] 2007 Apr 17; Vol. 88 (1), pp. 83-6.

BACKGROUND: Identifying cannabis users who are most at risk of driving under the
influence of cannabis (DUIC) has important implications for drug treatment and
prevention efforts. This paper examined correlates of DUIC among a purposive sample
of recent cannabis users. METHODS: Interviews were carried out among a cross-
sectional sample of 320 Australian cannabis users. Past-year prevalence of DUIC
(without using alcohol or other drugs) was regressed against a range of potential
predictor variables. RESULTS: Use of multiple drugs, believing that DUIC does not

increase accident risk and cannabis dependence all predicted likelihood of DUIC. There
was an interaction between age of first cannabis use and gender, whereby earlier onset
cannabis use predicted DUIC but only among women. CONCLUSIONS: The correlates
of drug driving reflected cannabis users' beliefs about the dangers of cannabis use as
well as their patterns of drug consumption. The emergence of cannabis dependence
and age of onset as predictors of DUIC suggests a clearly defined role for treatment and
prevention efforts in reducing the potential harms associated with DUIC.

Screening for drugs in oral fluid: illicit drug use and drug driving in a sample of
Queensland motorists.
Davey J; Leal N; Freeman J
Drug And Alcohol Review 2007 May; Vol. 26 (3), pp. 301-7.

Police Services in a number of Australian states have indicated random roadside drug
testing will be implemented to target drug driving. This paper outlines research
conducted to provide an estimate of the prevalence of drug driving in a sample of
Queensland drivers. Oral fluid samples were collected from 781 drivers who
volunteered to participate at Random Breath Testing (RBT) sites in a large Queensland
regional area. Illicit substances tested for included cannabis (delta 9
tetrahydrocannibinol [THC]), amphetamine type substances, heroin and cocaine.
Drivers also completed a self-report questionnaire regarding their drug-related driving
behaviour. Samples that were drug-positive at initial screening were sent to a
government laboratory for confirmation. Oral fluid samples from 27 participants (3.5%)
were confirmed positive for at least one illicit substance. The most common drugs
detected in oral fluid were cannabis (delta 9 THC) (n = 13) followed by amphetamine
type substances (n = 11). A key finding was that cannabis was also confirmed as the
most common self-reported drug combined with driving and that individuals who tested
positive to any drug through oral fluid analysis were also more likely to report the
highest frequency of drug driving. Furthermore, a comparison between drug vs drink
driving detection rates for the study period revealed a higher detection rate for drug
driving (3.5%) vs drink driving (0.8%). This research provides evidence that drug driving
is relatively prevalent on Queensland Roads. The paper will further outline the study
findings and present possible directions for future drug driving research.

Interlocks for First Offenders: Effective?
Roth R; Voas R; Marques P
Traffic Injury Prevention [Traffic Inj Prev] 2007 Dec; Vol. 8 (4), pp. 346-52.

OBJECTIVE: Vehicle interlocks have been shown to effectively reduce the recidivism of
multiple driving-while-impaired (DWI) offenders; however, the evidence for their
effectiveness with first offenders has been mixed. Two Canadian studies found that the
installation of an interlock reduced first DWI recidivism, but U.S. studies in West Virginia
and California failed to find a significant reduction in recidivism for first DWI offenders in
interlock programs. The objective of this study was to determine the extent to which
such devices were effective with first offenders in New Mexico. METHODS: This study
compared 1,461 first offenders, who installed interlocks in New Mexico between
January 1, 2003, and December 1, 2005, with 17,562 first offenders convicted during
the same period who did not install the units. Cox multivariate proportional hazards
regression (CMVPHR) was used to compare recidivism rates during three periods: while

the interlock was on the vehicles of offenders who installed them, after those offenders
removed the units until the end of the study period (approximately 2 years), and for the
combined period (both while the interlock was installed and after it was removed).
RESULTS: While the device was on the vehicles of the interlock group, their recidivism
rate, 2.6% per year of exposure, was significantly less than the 7.1% per year rate of
the comparison group (CMVPHR hazard ratio = 0.39, p < 0.0001). After the device was
removed, the annualized recidivism rate of the interlock group increased to 4.9% per
year of exposure, which was less than the 6.7% rate of the comparison group, but the
hazard ratio was not statistically significant (CMVPHR hazard ratio = 0.82, p = 0.16).
When the combined periods (interlock on and off) were considered, the interlock group
had a recidivism rate of 3.9% per year, which again was significantly lower than the
6.8% rate for the comparison group (CMVPHR hazard ratio = 0.61, p < 0.0001).
CONCLUSION: The study provides evidence that interlocks are as effective with first
offenders (approximately 60% reduction in recidivism when on the vehicle) as they are
for multiple offenders. In addition, the benefits of requiring an interlock for first offenders
exceed the costs by a factor of three.

Hardcore drinking drivers and other contributors to the alcohol-impaired driving
problem: need for a comprehensive approach.
Williams AF; McCartt AT; Ferguson SA
Traffic Injury Prevention [Traffic Inj Prev] 2007 Mar; Vol. 8 (1), pp. 1-10.

OBJECTIVE: Understanding the hardcore drinking driver concept in the context of the
alcohol-impaired driving problem. METHOD: Review of the relevant literature.
RESULTS: As progress against alcohol-impaired driving slowed in the early 1990s,
public and political attention turned to "hardcore" drinking drivers, and they have been a
priority for the past 15 years. Though intuitive, the hardcore concept has been difficult to
conceptualize. Its definition of hard-to-change chronic heavy drinking drivers focuses on
a group that is not easily identifiable and ignores many who account for a large portion
of alcohol-impaired driving crashes. These include drivers who drink heavily on
occasion and drivers who drink at more moderate levels that elevate crash risk.
Emphasis on the hardcore has focused attention on the small proportion of drinking
drivers who have been detected and arrested, whereas the vast majority of drinking
drivers go undetected. Some countermeasures aimed at the hardcore group have been
effective in reducing recidivism, but attention and resources also need to be given to
general deterrent initiatives (e.g., 0.08 g/dL, sobriety checkpoints, administrative license
suspension). There has been no reduction in the overall alcohol-impaired driving
problem since the mid-1990s. CONCLUSION: Reductions in the alcohol-impaired
driving problem require that attention be focused on all relevant target groups. Some
benefits could accrue by recognizing that countermeasures developed for hardcore
drinking drivers, such as alcohol ignition interlocks and vehicle or plate impoundment,
might also be effective with more numerous first-time offenders. However, such
strategies are likely to be most effective against recidivism (specific deterrence).
Greater gains could be achieved through general deterrent efforts (increasing the real
and perceived risk of arrest and punishment to all drinking drivers), along with
application of public health measures designed to reduce overall consumption.
Additional ways need to be found to separate drinking and driving, either through
cultural changes in drinking and/or driving behavior or, in the future, with the use of
technology that can make vehicles inoperable by drivers with illegal blood alcohol


Mandating interlocks for fully revoked offenders: the New Mexico experience.
Roth R; Voas R; Marques P

Traffic Injury Prevention [Traffic Inj Prev] 2007 Mar; Vol. 8 (1), pp. 20-5.

OBJECTIVE: In New Mexico, between July 1999 and December 2002, the installation of
an ignition interlock was an optional judicial sanction for second and third driving-while-
impaired (DWI) offenders. This is a study of the recidivism of 437 offenders who were
convicted and installed interlocks for an average of 322 days during that period.
METHODS: The comparison group was a stratified random sample (N = 12,554) of the
20,949 offenders who were convicted during the same period but did not install
interlocks. DWI arrest and conviction data for all study participants were received from
the Motor Vehicle Department's Citation Tracking System. RESULTS: Only 11 (2.5%) of
the interlock offender group were rearrested for DWI while interlocks were installed,
whereas 1,017 (8.1%) of the comparison group were rearrested during an equivalent
322-day period. Survival graphs and Cox proportional hazard regression analyses were
used to compare the interlock and noninterlock groups during installation, after
installation, and for the entire period up to December 2004. Results indicate a reduction
in recidivism of 65% during installation. After removal, there was no significant
difference in recidivism rates in a 3-year follow-up period. Following all offenders for 4
years, including both the period while the interlock was installed and the period after its
removal, indicates that the difference in recidivism achieved during installation, though
not increased, is maintained, so at the end of 4 years, interlock users still have lower
total recidivism than nonusers. CONCLUSIONS: The magnitude of interlock
effectiveness reported here is similar to those in other published studies with
comparable samples.

Evaluation of the Drug Evaluation and Classification program: a critical review of
the evidence.
Beirness DJ; LeCavalier J; Singhal D
Traffic Injury Prevention [Traffic Inj Prev] 2007 Dec; Vol. 8 (4), pp. 368-76.

OBJECTIVE: A critical review of the existing evaluation studies on the Drug Evaluation
and Classification (DEC) program was conducted to determine the validity and accuracy
of the technique for identifying drivers under the influence of drugs. METHODS: Studies
were divided into two categories--laboratory studies and field (i.e., enforcement) studies.
A classification process was devised using common criteria based on the toxicology
findings (i.e., drug positive or drug negative) and the opinion of the police officer who
assessed the driver (i.e., drug positive or drug negative). A series of standard measures
(Sensitivity, Specificity, False Alarm Rate, Miss Rate, Corroboration, and Accuracy)
were calculated for each to assess the effectiveness of the DEC program. RESULTS:
Laboratory studies do not provide overwhelming support for the accuracy with which
officers trained in the DEC program can detect and identify the particular class(es) of
drug involved based on psychophysical assessment alone. The detection and
identification of the relatively low levels of drugs administered were typically better than
chance but many cases were missed. The fact that some drugs were detected with
greater accuracy than others suggests that the effects of these substances were more

prominently manifested in the symptomology assessed by the DEC procedure. Although
field enforcement studies are not as scientifically rigorous as laboratory studies, DEC
assessments in an enforcement context have the benefit of information obtained from
the arresting officer and from interviews with the suspect. In addition, the drug doses
consumed by users are typically much higher than those permitted in controlled
laboratory studies. In general, officers trained in the DEC program are able to identify
persons under the influence of drugs and to specify the drug class responsible with a
degree of accuracy that not only exceeds chance, but in some cases reaches a very
high level. CONCLUSIONS: There remains room for improvement in the DEC program.
As further research becomes available, either from laboratory or field investigations or
both, it needs to be incorporated into the program to enhance its validity and accuracy.

Outcomes from a randomized controlled trial of a multi-component alcohol use
preventive intervention for urban youth: Project Northland Chicago

Kelli A. Komro, Cheryl L. Perry, Sara Veblen-Mortenson, Kian Farbakhsh, Traci L.
Toomey, Melissa H. Stigler, Rhonda Jones-Webb, Kari C. Kugler, Keryn E. Pasch,
Carolyn L. Williams (2008) Addiction 103 (4) , 606–618

Aims The goal of this group-randomized trial was to test the effectiveness of an
adapted alcohol use preventive intervention for urban, low-income and multi-ethnic
settings. Design and setting Sixty-one public schools in Chicago were recruited to
participate, were grouped into neighborhood study units and assigned randomly to
intervention or ‘delayed program’ control condition. Participants The study sample
(n = 5812 students) was primarily African American, Hispanic and low-income.
Intervention Students, beginning in sixth grade (age 12 years), received 3 years of
intervention strategies (curricula, family interventions, youth-led community service
projects, community organizing). Measurements Students participated in yearly
classroom-based surveys to measure their alcohol use and related risk and protective
factors. Additional evaluation components included a parent survey, a community leader
survey and alcohol purchase attempts. Findings Overall, the intervention, compared
with a control condition receiving ‘prevention as usual’, was not effective in reducing
alcohol use, drug use or any hypothesized mediating variables (i.e. related risk and
protective factors). There was a non-significant trend (P = 0.066) that suggested the
ability to purchase alcohol by young-appearing buyers was reduced in the intervention
communities compared to the control communities, but this could be due to chance.
Secondary outcome analyses to assess the effects of each intervention component
indicated that the home-based programs were associated with reduced alcohol,
marijuana and tobacco use combined (P = 0.01), with alcohol use alone approaching
statistical significance (P = 0.06). Conclusions Study results indicate the importance of
conducting evaluations of previously validated programs in contexts that differ from the
original study sample. Also, the findings highlight the need for further research with
urban, low-income adolescents from different ethnic backgrounds to identify effective
methods to prevent and reduce alcohol use.

Texas Slow to Adopt Jail Alternative for Marijuana Offenders
January 4, 2008
A Texas law that went into effect on Sept. 1 allows police to write tickets for
misdemeanor marijuana possession rather than arresting and imprisoning offenders,

but so far few jurisdictions appear to be embracing the law, the Dallas Morning News
reported Dec. 31. Lawmakers hoped the law would help ease jail overcrowding, but only
one county has adopted it, and officials in others say they don't have procedures for
processing the misdemeanor citations and don't plan to develop any. Citations can be
issued in lieu of arrest for possession of four ounces or less of marijuana. Greg Davis,
first assistant district attorney in Collin County, said the law sends a bad message. "It
may ... lead some people to believe that drug use is no more serious than double
parking," Davis said. "We don't want to send that message to potential drug users,
particularly young people." Critics also said that issuing tickets instead of arresting
offenders could complicate prosecutions by making it harder to positively identify
suspects and ensure they show up in court. Local officials acknowledge that jail
overcrowding is a major problem, but Dallas County criminal-justice director Ron
Stretcher said that the goal of easing overcrowding may not justify the new law. "These
are not just tickets. These are crimes that need to be appropriately dealt with," Stretcher
said. "We want to make sure we get them back to court to stand trial." But Rep. Jerry
Madden, who sponsored the law, replied, "It's not about emptying the jail. It's about
making sure that we have room in the jail for the people who need to be there."
"There are folks that think we are being soft on crime because we are just giving
tickets," said Roger Wade, a spokesman for the Travis County Sheriff's Department,
which is utilizing the new law. "We are still hard on crime. We believe if we can save
resources and have the same affect on crime, then we should take advantage of this."
Under Texas law, marijuana possession is punished as a class A or B misdemeanor. A
class A misdemeanor can result in up to one year in jail and fines of up to $4,000. A
class B misdemeanor can result in up to 180 days in jail and up to $2,000 in fines.

Many Teens Don't Taste Alcohol in Sweet Drinks
February 28, 2008
Australian researchers report that one of four teens say they cannot detect the taste of
alcohol in sweet "alcopop" drinks, the Melbourne Herald Sun reported Feb. 27.
Researchers at the consumer group Choice had 18- and 19-year-old volunteers taste
10 drinks, including soft drinks, alcopops, beer and wine, and concluded that sugar and
flavorings served to mask the 4.5-percent alcohol content in the alcopops.
VicHealth CEO Todd Harper charged that the sweet drinks were designed specifically to
appeal to young drinkers who would otherwise be turned off by the taste of alcohol. "A
lot of these drinks have a high sugar content to make them palatable for young
drinkers," he said. "They are inexpensive, but have a high alcohol content. They give
young people as much low-cost booze as possible."
"We know that premixed spirits are the preferred drink of young and underage drinkers,
who put their safety and their health at risk by binge-drinking," added Geoff Munro of the
Australian Drug Foundation.
A spokesperson for the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia acknowledged that
many young drinkers prefer sweet drinks but put the blame for underage drinking on
those who supply alcohol to youth. "Inevitably, some of these products will appeal to
those aged 15 and 16 who want to do the things that adults do," said spokesperson
Stephen Riden, adding, "Around 90 per cent of alcohol consumed by teenagers is
bought for them by parents or older siblings."


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