Students experience the dangers of driving impaired at DUI Awareness Fair


Joseph Taliauli, 19 kinesiology major puts on beer goggles, which simulates being drunk at the legal limit of .08. He then tries to navigate through a course of cones with ECPD officer Matt Ryan during the 15th Annual South Bay DUI Awareness Fair on Thursday. Photo credit: Jackie Ramano

It was a chaotic scene. Students lined up to practice ‘drunk driving,’ others were shooting hoops while ‘high’ and the rest stared in awe at the wrecked vehicle in front of them.

El Camino students experienced first hand the dangers of driving under the influence at the 15th annual South Bay DUI Awareness Fair in front of the Activities Center today.

“This is all aimed at educating our students about the dangers of drunk driving,” ECPD Sgt. Jeffery Lewis said. “If we can influence at least one student then we have done our job.”

Present at the fair was a wrecked vehicle on display to show students what can happen if they get into a car crash while driving under the influence.

“This belonged to an individual who was going 80 mph on a 35 mph zone while drunk,” Lewis said. “They then hit two large pine-cone trees and did not survive.”

The vehicle on display was provided by MADD (Mother Against Drunk Driving), it travels all over L.A. county as part of DUI prevention programs Lewis said.

“It was interesting to see the difference that drunk driving can make. It’s a wake up call,” Jake Perry, 21, engineering major said.

At the fair, students were given the chance to experiment what it felt like to be under the influence by using alcohol impairment and marijuana goggles.

“They mess with your brain and I felt like I couldn’t see and like there wasn’t enough room (to move),” Uriel Payan,18, undecided major said.

Students lined up to take turns driving a golf cart while wearing alcohol impairment goggles while other students took turns shooting basketballs using marijuana impairment specs.

“It’s scary when you get some students that don’t really know how to drive,” Lewis said. “Then they want to show off to their friends and go fast.”

“I wanted to (use the alcohol goggles) to scare myself into never driving drunk,” Betty Bautista, 18, sociology major said. “It worked. I was really tense.”

The outcome of the fair is very favorable, not only does it warn students against drunk driving but it also improves the relationships between students and police officers, Lewis said.

“With all the negativity surrounding police officers in the news, (events) like these break down that barrier,” Lewis said. “Its very nice. Normally we don’t get that.”

The DUI Awareness Fair occurs right before Halloween and before any of the major holidays start, Lewis said.

Although the fair happens only once a year now, the number of students that attend the fair has been increasing each year Lewis added.