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The arrest rate for driving under the influence in Oldham County rose an alarming 115 percent between 2006 and 2007, from 121 arrests to 261. Equally alarming, the number of youth arrests for DUI (ages 16 to 21) rose from 26 arrests in 2006 to 50 arrests in 2007 — a 93 percent increase. While adjacent counties also saw an increase in overall DUI arrests between 2006 to 2007, Oldham County’s increase was by far the highest. Jefferson County’s arrests for DUI increased under 18.81 percent, Henry County’s increase was 1.09 percent and Shelby County’s increase was 2.90 percent. Two counties actually saw a reduction in youth DUI arrests — Henry dropped 15.15 percent and Shelby dropped 33.33 percent. The increase in DUI arrests in the youth population coincides with an increase in number of young people reporting regular use of alcohol, according to local youth survey data. We are all aware of the dangers of impaired driving, which kills about one person every 30 minutes according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Alcohol-related crashes will affect about 30 percent of all Americans at some point in their life. Because alcohol and drug use and abuse are community problems, all of us have a responsibility to address them. We cannot afford to let the increase seen in 2006 to 2007 to be the beginning of a very dangerous trend. Our entire community – parents, business owners, community leaders, healthcare workers, church leaders and members, community organizations, educators, sports teams, youth and civic leaders – can and should be part of the solution. There are many ways you can help make our roads and communities safer. You can start by attending the town hall meeting on underage drinking hosted by the Oldham County Police Department and the Kentucky Agency for Substance Abuse Policy Region 6 Local Board. The meeting will be Monday at the John W. Black Community Center in Buckner. Registration will start at 6:45 p.m. You can also attend meetings of Challengers of Oldham County at noon on the second Monday of every month at the community center. Remember, “you’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem” (Cleaver, 1968). Please be part of the solution. For information on the town hall meeting, call Maj. Tim Wakefield with the Oldham County Police Department at 222-1300.
The views expressed in this column may not necessarily represent the views of The Oldham Era.