How to harm reduction and law enforcement work weave together, find out how in this new NCHRC Video!
He’s on fire! Art Jackson, community educator of HIV prevention and care services in Fayetteville, NC, delivered a rousing call-to-action for reform in HIV/HCV testing, funds allocation, care and education at the Southern Harm Reduction and Drug Policy Network conference Thursday, September 6, 2012, in Atlanta, GA.
Alcohol and the Law
Getting an alcohol citation can be expensive, embarrassing, and downright frustrating. Many students can easily minimize their risk of getting a drinking ticket by becoming informed. So, before you make any decisions about purchasing or drinking alcohol, make sure you know the law; know the consequences; and know your rights.
Know the Law:
It is ILLEGAL to….
- Purchase or attempt to purchase alcohol if you are under 21. This includes attempting to order a drink at a bar or purchasing beer at a grocery store
- Possess alcohol if you are under 21. This includes alcohol found in your vehicle or in your hands as you walk down the street, even if it is unopened. An underage person suspected to be under the influence of alcohol (smells like alcohol, holding an empty Solocup that smells like alcohol, visibly intoxicated, etc) can be charged with underage possession.
- Use a Fake ID to purchase or attempt to purchase alcohol or to enter an over 21 drinking establishment. Using a Fake ID to get into a bar can still result in a citation even if no alcoholic drinks are purchased or consumed.
- Purchase alcohol for an underage friend.
- Drink and Drive. If you are 21 and over, this means having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least 0.08. It is also illegal to consume alcohol while driving or to have any alcohol in your system when there is an unsealed alcohol container in the passenger seat. If you are under 21, you can get a DUI for having any alcohol in your system.
- Possess an open container of alcohol in any publicly owned area, such as streets, sidewalks, municipal parking lots, public parks, playgrounds, recreational fields, tennis courts, athletic fields, and in any buildings owned by the town. This law applies to people 21 and over.
Know the consequences
Typical consequences for the above offenses include a misdemeanor charge, fines, and court costs. Additionally, many students are required to complete an 8-week alcohol education class as well as a 1-on-1 alcohol assessment. A DUI often results in a mandatory 1-year revocation of your Driver’s License for the first offense. Depending on the situation, a student may also face imprisonment. UNC Dean of Students has their own set of consequences for students that may include academic and/or housing probation.
Know your rights
If you are stopped by the police, here’s some helpful advice from UNC Legal Services…..
- REMAIN SILENT. You are not required to answer questions. Think “UNC”: “Uh, No Comment.”
- DO NOT CONSENT TO A SEARCH. If police request to search your person or belongings, state clearly, for the officer and witnesses to hear, “I do not consent to a search.”
- DO NOT PHYSICALLY RESIST A SEARCH. If the officer proceeds to search you or your belongings, repeat “I do not consent to a search.” (If the search is not lawful, it can be suppressed, even if they find contraband.)
- If asked to present identification, DO NOT present a fake ID. If you present proper identification and an officer asks to see your wallet to see if you have a fake ID, you can refuse and then ask the officer if you are free to go.
- DO NOT SUBMIT TO A BREATHALYZER unless you are stopped while driving a car. If you are a passenger in a vehicle, you are NOT REQUIRED to submit to a breathalyzer if asked. You may refuse without legal consequences unless you are underage and visibly intoxicated. If you are approached on the street, you are also NOT REQUIRED to submit to a breathalyzer.
- DO NOT RESIST ARREST. Remain silent. Remain calm. NEVER physically resist a police officer.
- IF ARRESTED: State clearly, for the officer and any witnesses to hear, “I am going to remain silent.” Then REMAIN SILENT.
Some additional things to keep in mind if you are stopped while driving….
- YOU MUST display your driver’s license upon an officer’s request.
- YOU MUST write your name (for the purpose of identification) upon an officer’s request and provide your name and address (and the name and address of the auto’s owner).
- If the officer believes you have consumed alcohol, you MUST SUBMIT to a breathalyzer test or your license will be revoked. You have a right to contact an attorney for advice.
- You may be asked to perform dexterity tests, but you are NOT REQUIRED to do so. There are NO formal legal penalties for refusing to do so.
For more information:
911 Good Samaritan Overdose Law and Hispanics
by Leilani Attilio, North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition
According to the United States Census Bureau, North Carolina is one of eight states with the fastest growing Hispanic population, which has more than doubled between 2000 and 20101. A 2004 report published by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School suggested 45% of the North Carolina Hispanics were undocumented2. Given the growing population of Hispanics in the state, it would behoove the North Carolina policymakers to gain the perspectives of Hispanic individuals on the current laws regarding immigration and other Hispanic issues. One such law would be the 911 Good Samaritan Overdose Law, which has huge implications for people of Hispanic decent. The 911 Good Samaritan Overdose Law gives overdose victims and bystanders, who seek medical assistance in overdose episodes, immunity from drug possession charges3. In general, a common reason for not calling 911 in an overdose situation is fear of being arrested. For Hispanics who are undocumented or seeking legal permanent residence, this could mean barriers towards citizenship or worse, deportation. The enactment of the 911 Good Samaritan Overdose Law would be a paradigm shift from focusing on criminal prosecution (a legal issue) to saving lives (public health issue). However, North Carolina is one of 38 states that have not enacted this life-saving law.
To date only one study has been conducted to evaluate the 911 Good Samaritan Overdose Law. The preliminary data from Washington state have suggested the 911 Good Samaritan Overdose Law is effective and drug users reported being more apt to call emergency responders if an overdose episode ensues3. Laws like the 911 Good Samaritan Overdose should not only be enacted in North Carolina, but also be tailored to the state given the increasing Hispanic population2. During several interviews with Latinos in El Paso, Texas, New York City, and Washington D.C. including a former Executive Director of an immigrant advocacy group, the most common concern voiced by the interviewees was fear for the individual who is at risk being detained and deported. Regardless of whether a person has legal permanent resident in the United States, fear of deportation as well as fear of compromising a visa application is at the forefront of the minds of Hispanic immigrants. This suggests that if a law is in the works, key stakeholders should include immigrant advocacy groups to ensure a just and well-rounded piece of legislation for North Carolina that protects the health and safety of all their residents.
Respondents suggested including a clause to shield immigrants who are either legal or non-legal permanent residents from deportation if they call 911 in an overdose episode. Another aspect for consideration from the Hispanic perspective is how the information would be disseminated if the 911 Good Samaritan Overdose Law were enacted. In the Washington state evaluation, among syringe exchange users, only one-third of opiate users were aware of the 911 Good Samaritan Law3. In general, more emphasis needs to be placed in delivering the message to the community and those most at-risk for overdoses through public service announcements, pamphlet distribution, and outreach work. Further, disseminating the message through trustworthy Hispanic sources such as churches and activist organizations would be a great place to start in order to avoid exploitation of immigrants in particular those who are undocumented.
With bystanders more willing to call for help in an emergency, the overdose victim has a greater chance of surviving. Further, people who overdosed and later spoke with medical personnel at the hospital were more likely to enroll in drug treatment4. Drug death overdoses are the leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States usurping motor vehicle crashes5. The enormous impact on individuals and communities cannot be ignored. Given the evidence of a positive impact of the 911 Good Samaritan Overdose Law, North Carolina should follow suit. Working with key stakeholders that include, but are not limited to law enforcement, paramedics, and immigrant advocacy groups are the cornerstone to creating a successful and culturally appropriate piece of public health law.
1. Ennis S, Ríos-Vargas M, Albert N. The Hispanic Population: 2010. Washington D.C.: United States Census Bureau; July 24 2011.
2. Kasarda J., J. J. The Economic Impact of the Hispanic Population on the State of North Carolina. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina;2006.
3. Banta-Green C, Kuszler P, Coffin P, Schoeppe J. Washington’s 911 Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Law-Initial Evaluation Results. Seattle: Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute, University of Washington; November 2011.
4. Pollini RA, McCall L, Mehta SH, Vlahov D, Strathdee SA. Non-fatal overdose and subsequent drug treatment among injection drug users. Drug Alcohol Depend. Jun 28 2006;83(2):104-110.
5. Warner M, Chen L, Makuc D, Anderson R, Miniño A. Drug Poisoning Deaths in the United States, 1980-2008. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; December 2011.
Reducing Risk Among Southern Law Enforcement and Communities
By NCHRC Ally Melissa Colebank
It only seemed appropriate that as attendees of the NCHRC Law Enforcement Safety and Drug Policy summit on Tuesday, June 12th entered the top floor of the NC state legislature house, they were greeted with a room full of America’s patriots, a unit of NC Military Police being honored for their service later that day. It was those men and women that continued to fight for our nation’s freedom abroad the set the perfect tone for the advocacy of our community safety. The NCHRC is a committed group of individuals who believe in safety and education. Greeted with a smile, Robert Childs, executive director, welcomed me to the NC state legislature on Tuesday morning, just as he welcomed state Representatives and former members of law enforcement, gathering to discuss law enforcement safety and drug policy. Surrounded by those who believe in drug policy reform and those who still remain skeptical, they have all gathered at the state legislature to help facilitate a change. Over the course of the day, former law enforcement officers, state Representatives, and members of the NC community shared their stories and called the prescription of that change. The topics discussed included; syringe decriminalization and a better education of drug prevention techniques for citizens. Lt. Det. Pat Glynn of the Quincy PD, Mass. traveled down to show the positive results of his department’s use of Narcan and how they’ve saved over 90 lives since the program began. The officers were acting as first responders, saving people in their community and giving them a second chance. Different stories and messages were shared throughout the afternoon, but one rang true for each, that there is a need for increased acceptance of alternative safety methods and that every life is worth saving.
There is nothing more important than safety in our communities, and the training done by NCHRC for law enforcement is a free and effective way to achieve that. The room was full of officers, each one listening with intensity and curiosity as the Harm Reduction Coordinator, Tessie Castillo, explained what NCHRC was about and what she was brought in to teach that morning. As part of the Durham Crisis Intervention Team training, this program is offered for free as interested officers prepare to be certified for specialized mental health training. These officers are learning the basics of injecting drug use and how to look past the stigma our society has created to the human that the potential suspect is. Most of the officers during the Thursday June 14th morning training session saw their previous convictions shattered as syringe exchange statistics were presented and how much safer their jobs could be with a syringe decriminalization law in place. Before ending the session, former NYPD Seg. Ronald Martain delivered a message to the officers, not of diligence or political action, but of self-safety. He addressed the officers as one of their own, someone who had been in a rough neighborhood and seen the incidents that they feared the most. Above all, his message was one that inspires, “the most important part of your job is to come home safely at the end of your shift.”
Spending time with the members of NCHRC and others dedicated to providing a safer future with safe access and increased education made me more aware of all members of my community. The officers of our cities and towns deserve to do their job without the constant threat of a needlestick and tools, such as needle proof gloves and the access to resources like NCHRC to provide the answers to questions they did not know they have. Our officers, families, and communities could be a safer place with policies like syringe decriminalization and more organizations like NCHRC and members of law enforcement like the Durham CIT officers and members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, looking to make the world a better place through education, understanding, and passion.