If you were a child of the 90s, you probably remember school programs like D.A.R.E. In many of today’s high schools, they continue to provide programs and events like “Every 15 Minutes” that strive to educate young children and students about the consequences of using drugs.
This past month, Marin County provided 100 high school students an opportunity to see how a DUI trial is conducted. As part of a program organized by the Marin County Office of Education, the hearing proceeded much like how an actual DUI trial. It was held in partnership with local high schools, the district attorney, the public defender, and the sheriff’s office.
The purpose of the program is to help give “young people a heightened awareness of their personal responsibility and lead them to making good choices.”
An actual judge of the Marin Superior Court attended and presided over the trial. A select few of the participating teens served as the student advisory jury, eventually coming up with a verdict at the end of the trial. They were presented with video evidence, arguments from both the prosecutor and the defense, as well as testimonies from the arresting officers and criminal forensic scientists. Through this practice, the verdict was used as an opportunity to educate the students, and then the final judgment was made by Judge Sheila Sha Lichtblau, presiding.
One of the organizers of the program, Public Defender Jose Varela was quoted, “Prevention works in medicine and it works in the criminal justice system. Exposing students to the reality of a DUI trial creates a real context for decisions they will make about drinking and driving or getting into a car with someone who is too impaired to drive.”
Much like our previous article highlighting the costs associated with DUI charges, knowing how much the situation will cost you and what you may have to go through beforehand will help you think twice about your choice. And it seems Marin County believes that the knowledge can’t be taught early enough.