Students Witness DUI Case Firsthand


Teen drinking is dangerous. It opens the door to a world of potential problems, the worst being driving while under the influence. Many programs, like Every 15 Minutes and the DUI court, have been implemented to push teens away from getting behind the wheel after drinking.
The DUI court offered students a window to see the real consequences of driving while under the influence.
“It was really eye opening seeing firsthand the consequences someone will have to face,” said senior Luke McDonald. “I never want to have to be in that position.”
The court began with a chilling video with graphic clips of cars slamming into houses, stores, pets, and people. This gave just a glimpse into the problems a poor decision to drink and drive could cause.
“The video definitely prepared me for the serious matter I was going to listen about,” said McDonald.
Then, the actual court began. Due to full trials taking a very long time, the court only featured the sentencing.
Judge Laurie Earl, mother of junior Josh Cooperman-Earl, has been coming to schools to conduct the trial for almost five years now and considers it a very important event for the students to attend and learn from.
“The first year we did the program, we only did it at only a couple schools but now we go to almost 20 different schools. The demand has increased,” said Judge Earl.
Earl sees hundreds of DUI related cases a week and hopes that she can touch people so they can avoid the endless consequences that result from this one stupid decision.
“If it reaches one kid and makes them feel differently and think differently on how they handle the situation, I think we have succeeded,” said Earl. “My best advice is to recognize that drinking and driving happens to everyone; all types of people, not just people who have a problem with drinking. I only hope that they will be prepared to stand up before they get in that car.”
Defense attorney, Denis White, also participated in his second DUI court at Rio. White is the loving father of senior Wendi White and finds this court session as a great opportunity to touch all of the kids he has seen grow up with his daughter.
“I think its important [to come to Rio] because, just like the last thing I said last week, I love you guys. You guys have been my life for 16 years. I just think about all the people who have touched our lives and I would be devastated if anyone I ever was in contact with was hurt,” said White. “If I stand up there and share stuff with you guys, you’ll remember it.”
White enjoys his job because he sees it as giving back. He likes to defend the people who made a stupid mistake and wants to save them from all the horrible things he sees everyday.
“I do it for other schools buts Rio is the one that feels the most special to me,” said White.
When asked whether he thought the DUI court was successful, he said, “I won’t know. I’m kind of like Santa Claus because I know who’s naughty or nice and I see a list of when people get in trouble. I hope it was a success but it’s up to you guys. You can lead a horse to the water but you can’t make him drink.”
As a DUI defense attorney, he continues to learn everyday about the dangers of drinking and driving. He has set out to make a difference and touch lives that matter to him.
“That’s my goal; just to make sure everyone is safe,” said White.
“You have to avoid drinking and driving at all costs. I don’t preach abstinence because I dont think its effective,” said White. “Try to have some kind of relationship with your parents. Not where you’re abusing it, but just have an arrangement like Wendi and I do. She can call me anytime day or night.”
Overall, the DUI court was a success. This reality check, as harsh as some cases might be, have opened the students of Rio’s lives and will hopefully keep students safe.