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San Diego Police To Launch Teen DUI Prevention Program

Photo caption: The lights flash on a San Diego Police Department vehicle, Feb. 18, 2014.

Photo credit: Nathan Rupert / Flickr

The lights flash on a San Diego Police Department vehicle, Feb. 18, 2014.

The San Diego Police Department this weekend will launch an ongoing series of teen driving safety courses aimed at discouraging young motorists from driving while intoxicated.

The SDPD Teen Alcohol Awareness Program, geared toward newly licensed teen drivers and those just finishing high school, will begin Saturday evening, traffic Officer Mark McCullough said. Organizers hope to hold one session each month thereafter, he said.

TAAP will gather teens and their parents in a classroom setting to educate them about the risks and social costs of impaired driving, then give the youths direct experiences at DUI checkpoints, McCullough said.

The sessions will begin at 9 p.m. at the SDPD Traffic Division station on Aero Drive. When the classroom sessions conclude, parents will be excused and asked to return to pick up their children several hours later, according to McCullough.

The teens then will be transported to active sobriety checkpoints, where they will witness all facets of the operations, including initial contact and screening of drivers, detention of motorists, field sobriety tests and any DUI arrests that occur.

The participating youths also will visit secondary checkpoint operations areas, perform sobriety test, learn about arrest procedures and receive tours of prisoner-processing facilities. "We're hoping this (program) increases awareness as to the dangers and consequences of driving while impaired — not just for the teen drivers, but also for the parents as well," said McCullough, who will be among the class instructors.

"We hope this experience will foster open dialogue between the parents and the teen drivers after the class."

The department is working with local high schools to generate interest in and support for the courses, and is getting word out to the general public via news outlets and social media.

Funding for the program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Parents interested in enrolling their children in the TAAP course or getting more details about it are encouraged to call McCullough at (619) 818- 4860.

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