Tag Archive: Driving while intoxicated

Double-Edged Sword

The special one-hour season 5 finale of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” aired on October 25, 2010. The episode centered on Khloe’s birthday celebration thrown on the yacht of a family friend in New York. In hopes of endless birthday fun, Kourtney, Kim, and Kris hop on a flight to NYC, but Bruce decides to stay behind.

Disgruntled about spending the weekend without the girls, Bruce decides to use the time to bond with his step-son, Rob. Rob talks Bruce into a night out on the town. To make the outing more enjoyable Rob invites his guy friends and the girls from the band BG5. While out on the town Bruce finds it hard to let loose and enjoy the young Hollywood club scene.

As Bruce sits and complains he is “too old” to be out partying, Rob changes his mind by showing him a picture Kris sends via text from the yacht party. The photo shows Kris draped around a stripper pole. Bruce takes one look at the picture and immediately makes it his new mission of the night to party like a rock star. Bruce shows off his dance moves and drinks the night away.

At the close of the night, Bruce decides to get behind the wheel in order to drive back to his home in Calabasas, California. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles if an individual’s blood alcohol concentration level is .08% or above that individual may be arrested for driving under the influence. While it is unclear how much alcohol Bruce has consumed, it seems apparent from his actions, speech and appearance he is likely over the legal limit.  TV Guide posted a clip from the night on their website. The clip is titled, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians: Wild Boys” and the description reads: “Season 5, Episode 11: Bruce gets his ears pierced while out on the town with Rob and the guys. Plus, check out their drunken drive-thru trip.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Commission released a recent study in August which indicated an estimated 17 million people have driven drunk at least once during the past year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Commission’s study also revealed 1 in 5 Americans have driven within 2 hours of drinking alcohol in the past year and 4 out of 5 Americans identify drunk driving as a “major threat” to their safety. This “major threat” is not only a perception by the American public; it is in fact, a reality. MADD reports as many as 2 million drunk drivers are on the road at any given time.

While these statistics seem alarming, we must ask ourselves – do we encourage and support drunk driving through reality television shows? Since reality shows took off in 1990 they have been associated with alcohol. In fact, some of the most memorable reality show moments from the past ten years involve alcohol consumption. Commentators question whether producers intentionally provide the cast of reality shows with alcohol to make for juicier footage. A New York Times article claims reality show veterans have revealed alcohol is one of many producers’ favorite tools. Dave Kerpen, the star of Fox’s reality dating show “Paradise Hotel”, revealed in the same article, he downed 8 long island ice teas on his first night of filming (click here to read the entire article). The article also stated, Sarah Kozer, a contestant on “Joe Millionare” stated she was drunk or close to it on 90% of her on-air scenes. Stuart Krasnow, an Oxygen Network producer has stated to the New York Times he would be willing to bet his mortgage there has been a reality show producer who has “used alcohol to get more out of their contestants.” Producers who encourage alcohol consumption on set should be aware this behavior might lead to possible network liability issues as well problems with legal capacity.

Whether or not alcohol consumption is induced by producers or consumed by reality show stars as a result of their own free will, one result remains – alcohol and its effects are broad-casted across television every minute of the day. The season finale of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” is not the only time the Kardashian family has been associated with drinking and driving. In March of 2007, Khloe was arrested for driving under the influence (see mug shot below).

The episode documenting Khloe’s arrest aired during an earlier season of the show. A month later, Khloe decided to speak out against drinking and driving on an episode of the The Tyra Banks Show for this very reason it seems television may be a double-edged  sword. When it comes to the issue of drinking and driving critics might argue television condones or even promotes drinking and driving. Others would argue it has been the best medium of reducing the number of individuals who get behind the wheel after consuming alcoholic beverages.

The positive effects of using television as a medium to stop drinking and driving are evident. This upcoming holiday season will mark the 22 ad anniversary of the U.S. Designated Drivers Campaign. The U.S. Designated Drivers Campaign is a commercial advertising campaign created by the Harvard School of Public Health in partnership with all major Hollywood studios and prominent prime-time television networks such as ABCCBS, and NBC to prevent drunk driving. Click here to read about the television media strategy.

The entertainment industry has taken a further stand against drunk driving through the formation of RADDRADD, also known as the “Entertainment Industry’s Voice for Road Safety”, is a non-profit group internationally recognized for advocating road safety. The group focuses on sending messages through television and other outlets which are “non-judgmental, hip and positive.” RADD encourages the use of designated drivers, making responsible road behavior the norm, wearing a seatbelt, and safe driving through control behind the wheel. RADD is best known for its two most recognizable slogans, “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk” and “Your lifestyle is your business. Don’t take it on the road.”  Various celebrities have been used in numerous commercials for the program throughout the years to discourage drinking and driving. RADD also has a long list of celebrity supporters including ZZ TopMarc AnthonyAlice CooperAerosmithBarry Bonds, and The Who.

With the good comes the bad. While some may argue television shows such as “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” condone and even promote drinking and driving, others point to the television as a valuable tool used to fight that very activity.

Operating a Boat While Intoxicated Will Land You in Jail

The truTV network show “Over the Limit” follows police officers as they confront individuals who are either intoxicated, in possession of narcotics, acting out of control, disturbing public peace, and/or breaking the law. Episode #204 of this series aired on Sunday, September 26th and was packed with its typical law-breaking “over the limit” miscreants.

In this episode, New Jersey state police pull over a man for recklessly operating his boat on a river that is a well- known hot spot for weekend partiers. After pulling up next to the boat, police notice a large number of its passengers consuming alcohol. The officers become suspicious of the boat operator’s sobriety and notice that his eyes are blood shot, glossy, and indicative of alcohol consumption. The police escort the man into their boat where they begin to perform several sobriety tests. The first test is to make the man recite and write the alphabet, his name, the date and the time. The next tests are a series of hand-eye coordination exercises. After performing these tests, the officers inform the driver that he has failed all of them. The police then ask the man to blow into a breathalyzer machine. At first, the man refuses, but after learning he will immediately be brought to jail if he refuses, he agrees to the breath test. The driver of the boat’s Blood Alcohol Count (B.A.C.) registers on the machine as a .177%, over two times the legal limit of .08% in the state of New Jersey. As a result, the boat operator is arrested for Boating While Intoxicated (BWI), is handcuffed, and transported by boat to jail.

In New Jersey, boating laws are governed by New Jersey Statute Title 12, Chapter 7 and are enforced under the authority of the New Jersey State Police Marine Services Bureau. Specifically, the crime of BWI is regulated by N.J.S.A. 12: 7-46, “operating or permitting another to operate vessel under influence of alcohol or drug; penalties; satisfaction of screening, evaluation, referral and program requirements.” This statute states that no person shall operate or permit another to operate a vessel on New Jersey waters with a B.A.C. of .08% or more by weight of alcohol. The statute further explains the penalties for a person who commits this offense and distinguishes between first, second, and third offenders.

This episode of “Over the Limit” did not disclose whether the driver of the boat has been convicted of driving under the influence prior to this arrest. However, for purposes of this analysis, let’s assume that it was his first offense since the show failed to mention any prior violations. Under New Jersey boating law, penalties for a first offense BWI are different depending on the B.A.C. of the driver. Under NJSA 12: 7-46 (a)(1)(i), if the B.A.C. is .08% or higher but less than a .10%, the violator will be subject to a fine between $250 and $400, will lose his privilege to operate a vessel on New Jersey waters for one year after the date of conviction, and will lose his privilege to operate a motor vehicle for a period of 3 months. Since the driver of the boat in this episode has a B.A.C. of .177% and is higher than a .10%, his offense would be subject to the next set of penalties listed under NJSA 12: 7-46 (a)(1)(ii). Under this statute, a violator will be subject to a fine between $300 and $500, will lose the privilege to operate a water vessel in the state for one year, and will forfeit the privilege to operate a motor vehicle for a period between 7 and 12 months. In addition to these penalties, a person convicted of a BWI may also have to pay several fees and participate in an intoxicated driver’s program. Failure to follow these requirements set forth by New Jersey state law would subject the offender to possible jail time and increased fees.

Many people do not realize that DWI laws and penalties apply to the operation of water vehicles. Boating activities often involve alcohol and drivers and passengers can be subject to a ticket or arrest for BWI. State and local authorities are serious about stopping the combination of boating and alcohol and operators of water vehicles should be just as conscious of BWI offenses as motor vehicle drivers are of DWI offenses.


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