"Just two beers" is a phrase we all have heard as a punchline to a joke at some point, but the fact

of the matter is that your average Police Officer will hear those words hundreds or even thousands

of times in their career. Many drink responsibly, but many do not. I bring this up because the

Labor Day holiday is just around the corner, and when we get together around holidays, the

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) numbers go up. Here are the 2019 Labor Day numbers from

the Missouri Highway Patrol:

Crashes - 309

Injuries - 107

Fatalities - 4

DWI -116

Drug Arrests - 95

2019 Labor Day Holiday Boating Statistics

Crashes ─ 13

Injuries ─ 4

BWI - 10

Drug Arrests -16

Drownings – 1

And it should be noted in 2018, there were 11 fatalities. Each person's body handles alcohol

differently, and many of us think we can handle intoxicants more than we actually can. I can

almost guarantee you that of the above list 116 DWI's, most of whom thought they were just fine

to drive. DWI is a criminal charge in Missouri. You won't just get a ticket- you can land in jail,

lose your license, and pay significant fines and legal expenses. Here';s a brief overview of the

consequences in the state of Missouri. For a first offense (or first offense in over five years),

your license will be revoked for 30 days, followed by a 60-day suspension. A second

offense could result in a $1,000 fine, a year-long revocation of your license, and up to a year in

jail. You will also be required to install an ignition interlock system on your vehicle, preventing

your car from starting when you have alcohol on your breath. Ignition interlock systems cost an

average of $800 a year plus installation costs. Third and subsequent offenses can be penalized

with up to a $5,000 fine and/or up-to seven years in jail. If you cause a fatal crash while

intoxicated, you could be charged with Involuntary Manslaughter, a felony resulting in up to

seven years of jail time, a $5,000 fine, or both. There are many alternatives to driving impaired.

Our local area businesses have been doing a great job of offering services that allow you to stay

safe. Choose a driver who agrees not to drink or consider alternative transportation. Another

option could be to stay where you are. If at a friend or family member's house, check into the

possibility of staying the night. If you are in a position where you have to drive home the same

night, stop drinking in time to sober up. It takes the body approximately one hour to eliminate

one drink from your system or at about 0.015 per hour. The Coalition wants you to have fun and

enjoy your hard-earned time off, but please be responsible and remember there are others out

there, waiting to see their loved ones returned to them safely.

Newton County Community Coalition Vision: A safe and healthy, drug and alcohol-free, youth

community across all of Newton County.

Newton County Community Coalition Mission: We strive to prevent drug and alcohol abuse and

other risky behaviors among youth through collaboration, education, empowerment, early-

intervention, and community transformation efforts throughout Newton County.

Are you interested in making a difference in Newton County? Come join the Newton County

Community Coalition, where we are discussing how the Coalition provides substance abuse

prevention strategies with current target areas of youth alcohol use, marijuana use, prescription

drug abuse, and tobacco issues.

To get in touch with someone at the Coalition, please contact me or one of our Board members

at newtoncountycoalition@gmail.com. Board President: John Ball, Ball-john@kneo.org or

Board Vice President: Jeff Higgins, jhigginsatc@gmail.com

Check out our Facebook page@ https://www.facebook.com/groups/489182691248202

The Coalition meets from noon-1 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of every month. The meeting

location is the Talkington Building, 209 N. Valley Street, Neosho.

A Drug-Free Communities Coalition is supported by the White House Office of National Drug

Control Policy (ONDCP) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

(SAMHSA)

--Phillip Whiteman is the DFCCoordinator/Program Director for the Newton County Community Coalition (Coalition). He writes a biweekly column for The Neosho Daily News.