City, district aim to stop teen drinking

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 13, 1999

In just the last few weeks, Natchez Police Chief Willie Huff has seen enough problems to warrant an underage drinking education program.

Two teenagers wound up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning, he said. And a 17-year-old was found passed out, drunk in his car at a red light. The car was still running.

And the underage drinking problem has been increasing – in Natchez and nationwide, he said.

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So the police department is joining with the city recreation department and the school system to develop an educational program for area students.

Central Alternative School students will begin by finding out how hard it is to play basketball drunk.

But Huff hopes the real lesson is how hard it is to drive while drunk. &uot;We want to do some positive things to change these children’s attitudes about alcohol,&uot; he said.

In the Oct. 27 program, Central students will have a chance to wear &uot;Fatal Vision&uot; goggles, which alter motor skills and vision the same way alcohol does.

&uot;The goggles distort their vision to the same degree as someone who’s had four beers in two hours, or a .08 alcohol level,&uot; Huff said.

Central School students are the first group to be part of the underage drinking program.

&uot;We want to try it with a smaller group first,&uot; Huff said.

But eventually the educational program will be taken to all of the schools, including private schools, Huff said. &uot;It’s a problem that’s throughout all the schools,&uot; he said.

Huff said the program will eventually incorporate more intense educational programs offered by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Natchez-Adams Schools Superintendent Dr. Carl Davis said the Fatal Vision goggles can give students a tangible lesson in how dangerous drinking and driving can be.

&uot;We have to show our kids a lot of times what can happen,&uot; he said.