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Kickapoo Students Emotional After High-Impact Drunk Driving Presentation

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/kickapoost_418.mp3

Students from Kickapoo High School got firsthand experience of what it would be like to get behind the wheel of a car legally drunk. KSMU's Jennifer Moore reports.

The drunk driving simulator had students veering left and right, smashing into stop signs and running red lights.

It's programmed to mimic a driver who has reached the blood alcohol level of .08 percent, or who is legally drunk.

The simulator came after a morning assembly in which Chris Guysbeek from the nationwide "Save a Life Tour" spoke to a riveted gymnasium full of students on the consequences of drunk driving.

Guysbeek told of how he himself used to drive drunk before witnessing his friend get hit by a drunk driver several years ago.

Guysbeek described to the students how his friend was thrown 400 feet from the scene of the accident, and how he tried to resuccitate him by doing CPR on his bleeding and crushed body.

The seminar stopped by Missouri at a pivotal time: new statistics released earlier this week state that one in every seven Americans admitted to having driven under the influence of alcohol in the past year--that's according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

In Missouri, that number was one in every five.

That means that, if you're in your car in the state of Missouri right now, one in every five drivers you pass by has driven drunk in the past year. Or maybe, that one driver is you.

The Missouri state legislature is cracking down on drunk drivers.

Currently, Missouri law says people convicted of two or more drunken-driving offenses must install ignition interlock devices in their cars. The device requires the driver to pass a breathalyzer test before his or her car ignition will start.

A new bill, if passed, will require those drivers to prove to the Department of Revenue that they have installed the device before they can get their driving privileges reinstated.

But Guysbeek says even that is not enough.

One of the Kickapoo students who tried out the drunk-driving simulator was Karl Scharpf.

He told me he has never attended an assembly like this one before.

The Save a Life tour is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and tours the nation year-round.

For KSMU News, I'm Jennifer Moore.