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Student Services Division

Student Support Services: Law Related Education Programs

Real DUI Court in Schools Addresses Teen Drinking and Driving

Real DUI Court in Schools assembly

The frequency of driving under the influence is staggering. It is reported that four million people in the United States, 16 to 20 years old, drove while under the influence of either alcohol or illicit drugs in the past year, making motor vehicle crashes the leading cause of death among young people in that age group. Santa Cruz youth are not exempt from this national epidemic and regional statistics parallel this national trend. In a local Project CURB (Community United to Reduce Binging) survey, 60 percent of Santa Cruz youth reported to have either driven or ridden in a car with someone who has been drinking during the past year.

Altering the attitudes of teen drivers is fundamental to changing behavior. To address, reduce and prevent the high rate of teen drinking and driving, a robust, comprehensive approach is necessary. One method to curb this alarming trend is the Real DUI Court in Schools program. The Santa Cruz County Office of Education, Law-related and Prevention Education programs partners with the Santa Cruz Superior Court, Public Defender’s Office, and District Attorney’s Office to bring Real DUI Court in Schools assemblies to local high schools. In 2007, the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) funded the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, and other select agencies, to pilot the Real DUI Court in Schools program. Although direct funding ended in June 2009, the collaborative finds the program highly effective and of great importance and therefore continues to offer assemblies to high schools throughout the county.

“It wasn’t just a presentation about drunk driving, it was reality. The consequences were real, so it was so much more effective to me.”
—Scotts Valley High School senior

Real DUI Court in Schools brings real cases before students to emphasize the short- and long- term consequences and realities of driving under the influence. The assembly provides high school students with an opportunity to witness the consequences of an adult DUI sentencing hearing, hear from a testimonial speaker, dialogue with judicial staff, defendants, and speakers, and view WASTED: The Truth About Underage Drinking in Santa Cruz County, a video which discusses the public health issues of binge drinking in our community. The County Office of Education also partners with the County Drug and Alcohol, Friday Night Live Program, to provide a resource table and lunch time prevention activities for students after the presentation. One activity asks student to take a pledge to not drink and drive.

“Unfortunately these attorney’s spend at least 20% of their time hearing DUI cases. This is just a regular morning in court for them”
—Superior Court Judge Paul Marigonda

The collaborative brought this powerful assembly to the Scotts Valley High School Senior and Junior classes on April 26th, 2011. The Scotts Valley High School Performing Arts room became an annex of the Superior Court of California, Santa Cruz Department #3. Students were directed by Sheriff Deputy Ryan to adhere to all the rules of the court: to maintain silence throughout the proceedings, remove hats and hoods, no food and water allowed, and all electronic devices to remain off. Superior Court Officer, Judge Paul Marigonda called the sentencing proceedings to order and the students observed as three defendants under the age of 25 got sentenced to mandatory probation, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) classes, DUI classes, approximately $10,000 dollars in fines, loss of license, and for one defendant, jail time.

The defendant receiving jail time was 23 years old and convicted of his third DUI while driving with a suspended license. At the assembly he told the students, “Honestly, I didn’t take the first two DUI offenses I received seriously. I continued to drink and drive and now I am mandated to do jail time. It sucks. I no longer attend school and have to live at a residential housing program. So please learn from my mistakes and don’t drink and drive, it just isn’t worth it.”

This is the third year Scotts Valley High School students observed the Real DUI Court in Schools assembly. Scotts Valley High administration prioritizes scheduling the Real DUI Court in Schools assembly for their students, “This is a somber experience that shows students the very real consequences of drinking and driving. If it helps even one person to make better choices then the time is well worth it,” Valerie Bariteau, Principal at Scotts Valley High stated.

The collaborative is committed to providing Real DUI Court in Schools assemblies to students throughout the county. Judge Marigonda, the leading judge since the origination of the program in 2007, stresses the importance of the assemblies, "This program is a tremendous opportunity for high school students to see firsthand the consequences of choosing to drive under the influence of alcohol. The ability to work with COE and to bring real DUI cases to our high schools helps our community by showing the students how dangerous and costly it is to drink and drive.” DUI Court in Schools is an effort to curtail juvenile alcohol use and driving while intoxicated.

Santa Cruz County Office of Education, Law-related Education and Prevention Programs Partners include:
Santa Cruz County Office of Education Santa Cruz County School Districts
Administrative Office of the Courts
The Superior Court of California, Santa Cruz
United Way of Santa Cruz County: Together for Youth/Unidos Para Nuestros Jovenes
Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency: Alcohol and Drug Services – Friday Night Live Partnership
County Sheriff’s Department
California Highway Patrol
County Police Departments
Santa Cruz Public Defenders Office
Santa Cruz District Attorneys Office
Santa Cruz County Juvenile Probation
Santa Cruz County Bar Association
Santa Cruz County Trial Lawyers Association

Santa Cruz County Office of Education  |  400 Encinal Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060  |  831.466.5600  |  Fax: 831.466.5607
The Santa Cruz County Office of Education provides quality educational programs and services to a diverse community.