West Campus students get riveting lesson on the tolls of drunken driving
'Real DUI Court' brought to campus by senior
Nervous murmurs inside the West Campus High School gym turned to silence and then tears on Wednesday, November 14, when several hundred juniors and seniors got a gripping lesson in the dangers of drinking and driving.
The students participated in Real DUI Court, a program that brings men and women arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) onto campuses for sentencing before a Superior Court judge.
In a temporary courtroom created on the basketball court, a 20-year-old Sacramento man pleaded no contest to one count of DUI and was sentenced by Judge Lawrence Brown to three years probation and about $3,000 in fines. He also was ordered to enroll in a DUI prevention program.
The young man had been celebrating a friend’s birthday in Old Sacramento on February 10, 2012, when he was arrested. He failed field sobriety tests and registered a blood-alcohol content level of 0.10 percent — over the legal limit of 0.08.
After his arrest, he was taken to city jail, where he spent the night. “I was in a small room with 20 people crammed up in there,” he told the students. “There was (excrement) and (urine) and saliva. It was the nastiest place in the world. Trust me, you don’t want to be there. Think before you drive.”
The defendent was handcuffed after his remarks and led from the gym by bailiffs. His attorney, Larry Pilgrim, said the young man had been working for a real estate company before his arrest but lost his job when his license was suspended.
In addition to the $3,000 in fines, Pilgrim said the man paid about $5,000 in attorney fees.
Before his sentencing, students watched a powerful anti-DUI video created by TAC Communications. Set to REM’s “Everybody Hurts,” the video showed scenes of drinking set against horrific car accidents and heartbreaking hospital footage. The video brought some of the students — and staff — to tears.
“Hopefully, this message will go to your hearts,” Principal Greg Thomas told the students.”
Real DUI Court was brought to West Campus by senior Tayde Rios as part of her senior project. “I wanted the students to have an idea and be aware of the consequences of drinking and driving so we can avoid it,” she said.
Judge Brown told the students that it was “OK to be a little dorky at times” and resist pressure to drink. “The people pressuring you are losers,” he said. “When you come back for your high school reunion you’ll see that the ‘coolest’ kids amount to nothing and the ones who made good decisions are successful. There’s kind of a revenge of the nerds that goes in life.”