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Students get 'taste' of drunk driving

Posted: October 14, 2010 4:12 p.m.
Updated: October 15, 2010 5:00 a.m.
Ashley Ford/C-I

CLC student Shakial Sheppard tries to maneuver a golf cart through cones while wearing alcohol impairment goggles recently. Camden Police Department Patrolman Jacob Hammond and Detective Tyrrell Coleman talked with CLC students about the dangers of drinking and driving.

Continuous Learning Center (CLC) students got a taste of what it would be like to drive while drunk -- without taking a single sip of alcohol.

Camden Police Department Patrolman Jacob Hammond and Detective Tyrrell Coleman recently visited middle and high school students at CLC, warning them about the dangers of drinking and driving.

“DUIs are one of the worst things going on in our society. We’ve had 12 fatalities in Kershaw County this year -- these people were traveling on the same roads that you’re traveling today,” Hammond said. “That ought to give you a wake-up call.”

In 2007, there were 815 fatalities in South Carolina, he said.

This year, there have been 595 traffic fatalities -- a sign Hammond believes shows the state is making progress with cracking down on drunk drivers.

“We’re not here to make enemies. If you make a bad choice, you deal with the consequences,” Coleman told the group of high school students, several of whom said they know someone who has been killed by a drunk driver. “We just want to inform you all that every choice you make will have a consequence. That’s the bottom line.”

Many of the high school students were surprised to learn of the various consequences of driving while under the influence, which included lawyer fees and fines by the city of Camden of up to $2,365.

“If you want to get a football or basketball scholarship to college and you get arrested, it will cut you off,” Coleman said. “You’ll have booster club members and parents who will say ‘Do I really want to see a convict playing on this team?’ You may not think it’s right, but it’s reality.”

After the students listened to the officers, they participated in a drunken driving simulator in the school’s parking lot.

Wearing alcohol impairment, goggles, the students tried to maneuver a golf cart through a course of orange cones. Before driving, Hammond told the students that the cones represented pedestrians or other drivers, and asked them to even think of every orange cone as a person, family member, or someone they loved.

“We don’t ever want these kids to say that they didn’t know what the consequences were, or that no one ever told them how dangerous this could be,” Coleman said as he watched one of the students unknowingly plow over several cones in the course. “A lot of them think they’ve got everything all figured out but they don’t. We care about them. They may think that we don’t, but we do.”

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