• By Larry Lubell  Chicago

    The Palcohol, Powdered AlcoholAlcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved seven new version of Palcohol this week, including Margarita and Cosmopolitan. In case you’re like me and had never heard of this product until today, it’s alcohol in powder form.

    Consider, that each day, an average of 30 people die in motor vehicle accidents involving an alcohol-impaired driver. The math works out to one death every 48 minutes. Clearly the toll of alcohol goes far beyond  deaths in auto accidents and must include the far larger number of those injured as well as the broader evils associated with Alcoholism. When one recognizes the scale of the problem, and reads how AA and other 12-step treatment options have less than a 10% tong-term success rate, it seems difficult to justify making it easier to feed such a habit.

     I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with adults having a few drinks. I can’t picture going to a dinner party and having the hosts put away the Malbec and Bordeaux wine or the premium vodka, choosing instead to pour some powder alcohol into a jug of water. Nor does it seem likely that fine restaurants will have a great fear of their customers adding Palcohol to their drinks or food.  I don’t imagine that will be the source of the problems, but then again, I don’t believe that is the group to which they are targeting this product.   

    Just in case us parents did not have enough of a challenge keeping alcohol out of parties, I think it just got dramatically easier for kids to smuggle alcohol in to any place. I have the good fortune to have an 18 year old son that doesn’t drink and hangs out with a group of over-achievers- but I do hear stories, some of which include the ingenuity that teens show when trying to sneak stuff into a party. While a case of beer is not getting past an adults watchful eyes, there is no way I would ever search a teenage girl looking for a small packet of powder; moreover, every girl knows that. Looking to get a teenager’s perspective, I showed my son the article and he was dumfounded that the ATF would OK this product.

    I must state my concern extends beyond high school kids. Colleges across the country are fighting a battle against binge drinking, Palcohol is just going to pour gas on the fire. Not to give anyone any ideas, but It is easy to picture Fraternities and sororities spoon-feeding this powered alcohol to their pledges. How about a pie-eating-contest where the treats are baked with the stuff, making each slice more potent than a shot of tequila. I afraid if I go one listing potential ways to abuse this product, Palcohol will offer me a job as marketing director.  I do understand that individuals have the burden to drink  responsibility, and I’m inherently uncomfortable with the government taking on the role of  parent; the problem here is this product’s ability to bypass many of the gatekeepers that aid in reducing excess. A few examples of obstacles removed include, avoiding the high prices that clubs charge for a drink (How many $12 drinks are you going to buy), and avoiding bartenders obligation not to over-serve customers.     

    Insurance companies are working with the state to reduce DUI offenses, and it is my fear of additional drunk drivers on the road that motivated me to write this article. My hope is, now that it looks clear that Palcohol will be hitting the shelves, people will us this “Just add water to get high” product in a way that does not increase deaths on our roads.   So when the Palcohol website says “One package weighs about an ounce and is small enough to fit into any pocket” and “Take your Pal wherever you go!” that does not include the driver’s seat of your car.  

    Call 312-664-8088 or click here to get your free auto insurance quote.

  • Insurance for Drivers with DUI

    Do you have a pending Hearing in Traffic Court?

    If you have been stopped for DUI or DWI, the judge will want to see proof of current Auto Insurance, and verification that have your insurance company has filed the required SR22 form with the State Of Illinois.

    Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI) are serious violations which can result in you loosing your license, being hit with large fines, or even spending some time behind bars- just ask Lindsey Lohan . So it is important that you avoid getting the behind the wheel after you have been drinking. Clearly, even greater than the penalties handed down by the State, imagine going through life knowing that your momentary bad judgment resulted in injuries or even death.

    If you have been stopped it is important that you know your rights, and follow the prescribed path toward getting your license returned. DUI Tickets are often a good time to seek legal representation. Below is a chart that can help identify what constitutes the “Legal Limit” in the state.

    How much do you have to drink (BAC*) for a DUI in Illinois?

    Under 21 .00% – zero tolerance
    21 or older .08%
    Commercial .04%

    * BAC = blood alcohol content

    New DUI Laws in Illinois -

    Laws effecting DUI change, Effective January 1, 2011, Illinois has changed the Unified Code of Corrections providing that those convicted of a DUI accident that occurred on or after the amendment date where the accident was the proximate cause of great bodily harm or permanent shall receive no more than 4.5 days of good conduct credit for each month of the offender’s sentence of imprisonment.

    Additionally, Illinois increases the amount of technology fees from $500 to $750 usually imposed on first-time offenders who are found guilty or who plead guilty to violating the DUI provision of the Illinois Vehicle Code. Also, Illinois adds a ”summary revocation” to the summary suspension procedures. This provides that a person who refuses to submit to alcohol testing following a DUI arrest involving an accident that causes a Type A personal injury (or death) to another will have his or her license revoked summarily on the 46th day following the arrest.

    Urban Insurance has specialized in SR22 insurance policies for over 50 years. We’ll get your car insurance started quickly, and we’ll handle the necessary paperwork and provide you with a Same Day Electronic Filing to the Illinois Secretary of State, as well as provide you proof for any court appearance.

    Call 1-800-680-0707 or click here to get your free auto insurance quote.

  • car-crash-03I always found  Roger Ebert’s film reviews to be informative and insightful, even when I disagreed with his assessment. But his Tweet, in response to the story that TMZ broke concerning Ryan Dunn (“Jackass” film star) and unidentified passenger had died in a car accident after a night of drinking, was perhaps his most accurate review to date. # ”Friends don’t let jackasses drink and drive.”

    Yes, I do understand the risk of jumping to conclusions, and I assume Ebert will apologize if information shows the accident was not Ryan Dunn’s fault. That said I understand why Ebert would be angry after hearing TMZ’s report that Dunn’s drinking buddy claims Ryan had at least 3 beers and 3 shots before hitting the road in his Porsche. The police in the Philadelphia suburb of West Goshen, Pa. released a statement that said “excessive speed may have been a contributing factor.” I also feel for the Dunn’s family and friends, and can understand complaints that people might be too quick to place the blame at his feet; but it was he that chose to put his foot on the gas pedal after a night of heavy drinking.

    For me this story has two simple messages, don’t  ”Drink and Drive,” and that we all have a moral obligation not to let our friends drive drunk.

    According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2004, 16,694 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes. With statistics like that, it is impossible not to take the reckless actions of these stars seriously.
    Alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes kill someone every 31 minutes and non-fatally injure someone every two minutes (NHTSA 2006). We must understand that a DUI is a serious offence because of the potential for these actions to end with people lying dead on the side of the road.

  • alcoholic-drinks-breathalyzerAccording to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2004, 16,694 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes. With statistics like that, it is easy to see why state legislators are getting calls to mandate equipping cars with breathalyzers and ignition interlock devices.

    An ignition interlock device is a sophisticated system that tests a driver’s breath to determine one’s blood alcohol level. The apparatus requires the driver to blow into a small handheld unit that is attached to a vehicle’s dashboard. The alcohol sensor records a digital reading. If a blood alcohol level is above a preset point, then car cannot be started.

    The idea of widespread use of such equipment once considered radical, no longer seems out of the question. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) gives a qualified endorsement to the idea. Legislation is pending in at least 12 states that would require interlocks for some or all first-time offenders. New York state legislators are considering requiring the devices on all cars and trucks by 2009/

    Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, the sponsor of the New York bill is the same lawmaker who also sponsored the first law banning the use of handheld cell phones while driving. When confronted with complaints about the cost (Current breathalyzers cost about $1,000) or invasion of privacy concerns, Ortiz says he heard similar complaints about the cell phone ban and hands-free technology. He compares the criticism to early complaints about mandatory safety belts.

    MADD,The National Commission Against Drunk Driving (NCADD), and others trying to reduce the estimated 17,000 alcohol-related fatalities a year say ignition interlock devices are the only certain way to divide potential drunken drivers from their “weapons.”

    “If the public wants it and the data support it, it is literally possible that the epidemic of drunk driving could be solved where cars simply could not be operated by drunk drivers,” says Chuck Hurley, CEO of MADD, which is hosting its first conference on drunken-driving technology in June.

    “What a great day that would be.”

    Currently there are approximately 70,000 ignition interlocks are on vehicles, the lions share of them are ordered by the courts for repeat drunken-driving offenders.

    A former National Transportation Safety Board official, Barry Sweedler, has been working with automakers to place the wiring for ignition interlock devices in all cars there by making it easier to install the devices. Once interlocks can automatically check alcohol levels without any action from drivers, Sweedler believes they should be standard equipment in all cars.

    Many of the companies offer car insurance are also interested in the application of such technology but have not yet backed the idea of requiring it as standard equipment.

    Opposition to Breathalyzers

    As you can well imagine, there has been vast opposition to mandating that all cars be equipped with such devices. Civil libertarians complain that such devices installed in cars owned by people who have not been convicted of an DUI offense, is simply unconstitutional.

    Plans to mandate universal use of such devices cause John Doyle, executive director of the American Beverage Institute, recoil. “This campaign is a lot further down the pike than people realize,” says Doyle. (American Beverage Institute is funded by chains including Outback Steakhouse and Chili’s and is leading the opposition to broader use of interlock devices.)

    What happens if your car stalls in the middle of traffic? Would the motorist have to blow again before being able to start the vehicle? Ignition-interlock.com reports that a driver must wait 30 seconds before starting the car in order to achieve an accurate reading.

    “What about people who suffer from asthma?” “Will all users physically be able to handle the stress of taking a Breathalyzer on a regular basis?” Marietta Carr displayed similar concern to KRQE News 13.“I understand why the courts would require drivers convicted of DUI, especially repeat offenders to install such devices, but I don’t drink and drive; so there is no valid reason to force me to put one in my car”, states Alan Craine, Telecommunications executive.

  • dui-violationsSome people just never learn. That clearly was the case for Jo A. Trilling who was arrested for drunken driving three times in three days . According to The Sheboygan Press, the 60-year-old woman had been on vacation in Wisconsin at the time of all three arrests.

    The first time was after an officer saw her driving her car out of a ditch. You would think that after being caught driving with a blood alcohol at near 3 time the legal limit would be enough to put the “Fear of God” into her for at least 6 months, but in less than 24 hours again she was caught driving drunk.  Confronted by the officer her response was

    “I am still finishing up the box of wine in my car from yesterday.”

    While one can debate whether it ever makes sense to drinking “Wine from a Box,” there is no debate that you should not be drinking it while driving.  But even this second arrest did not have the desired deturent effect. The third time in 3 days, finally ended whith the woman being sent to jail for one month.

    Here in Illinois, As of 01/01/09  there is a New Drunk Driving  law- those found Guilty of DUI must install a breath-testing device in their car.

    “This is a new and innovative approach to deal with a very serious traffic safety issue,” said Secretary White. “Statistics show breath alcohol ignition interlock devices are very effective in preventing subsequent DUI offenses. As Secretary of State, my office will continue to do everything within its power to make the roads of Illinois as safe as possible.”

    Let’s all hope that Jo A. Trilling has an Epiphany while in jail, and quits drinking.

    Urban Insurance has specialized in writing SR-22 policies for the past 4 decades. SR22 is actually the name of the form used by insurance companies to notify the Secretaryof State that the insured is now in compliance with the court mandate.  It also binds the insurance company to send proper notice in the event that the policy gets cancelled.

    Larry Lubell

  • new-drunk-driving-law

    by Larry Lubell

    New Drunk Driving New law

    As of 01/01/09  those found Guilty of DUI must install a breath-testing device in their car.

    Governor Rod Blagojevich signed Legislation that cracks down on drunk drivers, and aims to prevent those convicted of DUI from even being able to start their car before passing blood alcohol level test.

    The new law was the result of a joint effort of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), working with Secretary of State Jesse White, and the legislation’s sponsors: Senator John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and Representative Robert Molaro (D-Chicago).

    The law requires all first-time DUI offenders who wish to obtain driving relief during the period of statutory summary suspension to install on their vehicles a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID). Motorists are required to blow into the BAIID, which measures their blood alcohol content levels.

    “This is a new and innovative approach to deal with a very serious traffic safety issue,” said Secretary White. “Statistics show breath alcohol ignition interlock devices are very effective in preventing subsequent DUI offenses. As Secretary of State, my office will continue to do everything within its power to make the roads of Illinois as safe as possible.”

    “We will not tolerate drunk drivers on our streets,” Blagojevich said.

  • dui-signFrom their August 24, 2008 Press Release:

    Jesse White and MADD’s Innovative DUI Legislation Signed Into Law Legislation that cracks down on drunk drivers was signed into law today by Governor Rod Blagojevich. The new law is the result of joint efforts among Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Secretary of State Jesse White, and the legislation»s sponsors: Senator John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and Representative Robert Molaro (D-Chicago).

    The law requires all first-time DUI who wish to obtain driving relief during the period of statutory summary suspension to install on their vehicles a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID). Motorists are required to blow into the BAIID, which measures their blood alcohol content levels. The device is designed to prevent DUI offenders from driving after having consumed alcohol.

    “This is a new and innovative approach to deal with a very serious traffic safety issue,” said Secretary White. “Statistics show breath alcohol ignition interlock devices are very effective in preventing subsequent DUI offenses. As Secretary of State, my office will continue to do everything within its power to make the roads of Illinois as safe as possible.”

    New Mexico implemented a similar law nearly two years ago and experienced in the first year a 12 percent reduction in alcohol related-fatalities. Moreover, studies show BAIIDs are effective in reducing subsequent offenses by up to 90 percent while on the vehicle.

    “This is one of the most important pieces of DUI legislation passed in Illinois in several years because ignition interlocks stop vehicles from being driven by those who are drunk,” said Glynn Birch, national president of MADD. “Illinois continues to raise the bar for other states. MADD applauds the state of Illinois for protecting its motorists from the dangers of drunk driving.”

    The law also increases the length of the statutory summary suspension from three months to six months for those offenders that failed the breath alcohol test at time of arrest and from six months to 12 months for those offenders that refused the breath alcohol test at time of arrest.

    In addition, the law eliminates Judicial Driving Permits (JDPs) for first-time DUI offenders, and instead requires those offenders who wish to drive to install the BAIID before driving relief is granted. DUI offenders will be monitored during the entire time the BAIID is installed in their vehicles.

    DUI offenders who cause death, great bodily harm, are under age 18 or have a prior conviction of reckless homicide are ineligible for driving relief.

    “I would like to commend MADD for this initiative,” said White. “They are working to enact similar legislation throughout the country in an effort to prevent the senseless tragedies caused by drunk driving.”

    The law goes into effect January 1, 2009.

    FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
    Dave Druker: 312-814-1506
    Henry Haupt: 217-782-5984

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