A short-notice driving under the influence training course for police officers from the region was presented in Belington recently.
The entire course was put together in only a couple days, and it took place May 21. Carlton "Jody" Haller, chief of police of Junior and mayor of Belington, was present for the training course, which took place in a room above City Hall. Ten officers attended from Lewis, Barbour, Upshur and Clay counties.
Belington Chief of Police Keith Rowan conducted the course with a PowerPoint presentation, which included trivia questions related to drunken driving.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Melissa Toothman
Ten officers from Clay, Barbour, Lewis and Upshur counties gather recently in a room above Belington City Hall for a course to raise awareness about driving under the influence.
"I never lost a DUI case since I've been working - in over 2,000 (cases)," Rowan said to the officers.
Rowan went through the Police Academy in 1977 and began working on DUI-related cases in 1976. He has been recognized by Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Governor's Highway Safety Program for DUI arrests.
"(It's) something I was very passionate about. When I first started, I'd get 150 a year," said Rowan, who told The Inter-Mountain he lost his father to a DUI-related incident.
The presentation included statistics that Rowan had compiled from 2007.
"I put these statistics because they just hit me ... too many people die each year to drunk driving," he said. "It's too many, whatever it is. If that's your husband or your daughter. ..."
According to the statistics Rowan provided, 1 in every 3 car accidents is alcohol-related and 1 in every 2 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lifetime. About 80 percent of impaired individuals involved in these accidents tend to be male.
According to Rowan's statistics, very few drunken drivers are actually caught driving drunk. Of every 2,000 alcohol-impaired drivers, only one is arrested.
"They're going to drive a heck of a lot more times drunk than we're going to catch them," he said.
He also said their excuse is usually always the same. They tend to claim it was their first time driving drunk.
"You hear that a lot ... so I don't ever believe that's the first time," Rowan said.
He told the officers in attendance that he admires what they're doing and knows it isn't easy.
"The technology's changed, but the people are still drunk," he said.
Contact Melissa Toothman by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.