State Police Make New Year’s Resolution to Stop Drunk Driving

News & Press

State Police Make New Year’s Resolution to Stop Drunk Driving

Thursday, December 27, 2012
Source: WPRO 630 AM News Talk

State Police have their own New Years Resolution this year, “365 days of safety”. The program dedicated to ensuring the roadways are safe for everyone.

“Today law enforcement in Rhode Island is stressing zero tolerance. What does that mean? Every single day, State Police, local police have zero tolerance related to drunk drivers. Someone gets stopped and their drunk, they’re going to get arrested,” said Colonel Steven O’Donnell.

Colonel O’Donnell says they’re enhancing the program by using over time funds from the department of transportation to put extra patrols to look out for drunk drivers.

“We have troopers and local policemen on a daily basis out doing patrol functions and part of that function is DUI enforcement, but it’s just a piece. These are dedicated patrols just looking for drunks. And if we have to arrest them, then we’ll arrest them. But we’d like to get the message out, don’t do it,” said Colonel O’Donnell

Police say they too many lives are lost and too many people affected by drunken drivers. Cathy Andreozzi is one of the many affected. Her daughter Tori Lynn was struck by a drunk driver 10 years ago. She now suffers from a debilitating brain injury and is now unable to take care of herself. Despite all of this, she tries to remain optimistic.

“We are certainly one of the fortunate families; we will always count our blessings. Life is difficult, it’s unpredictable and there’s a lot of uncertainty about life, but it is life,” said Andreozzi.

She says the message against drunk driver is so important and she will continue to work hard to get it across.

“I don’t care if it’s a crowd of a hundred, if two people get it, it’s worth it. It’s worth putting yourself out there and it’s worth putting yourself through the pain. The pain is going to be there no matter what so you might as well use it for some positive energy,” said Andreozzi.

More Troopers on RI roads

News & Press

More Troopers on RI roads

Thursday, December 27, 2012
Source: ABC News 6

Troopers are out and about aggressively looking for drunk drivers this New Year's weekend, and they're sending a message to dozens about safety. State police are asking you to make driving sober your New Year's resolution.

There were twenty-five drunk driving deaths in Rhode Island this year. It's the fewest in half a century, but troopers say there's more work to be done.

Mom Cathy Andreozzi knows all about the devastation drunk driving can cause. Her daughter was hit by a drunk driver, ten years ago, walking home from her bus stop.

“She doesn't walk, she doesn't talk, she doesn't eat,” said Andreozzi, “She's fully dependent on other people 24-7, certainly not the life she should have been living.”

The vibrant girl who once loved the holidays is now stuck in a wheelchair. A fate, state police don't want anyone else to have to face.

“Our message is pretty simple. Don't drink and drive,” said State Police Colonel Steven O'Donnell, “If someone wants to consume alcohol, that's their business, but don't get behind the wheel.”

At an event at CCRI's Lincoln campus, Thursday, 66 people dressed in red and black shirts represented those who were killed on the roads in Rhode Island last year. The ones in red shirts symbolized those killed by drunk drivers.

“The stakes are way too high, death,” said Colonel O'Donnell, “You can't get worse than that.”

Troopers are sending a warning. There will be more patrols out this weekend. Many of them are focused on tracking down drunk drivers.

It's an initiative Andreozzi is happy to be a part of.

“Every family in RI and the country everywhere is threatened to have their families shattered from the actions of one person and one bad choice,” she said.

More than 32–thousand people died last year on American roads.

Original Article: http://www.abc6.com/story/20436310/more-troopers-on-ri-roads

sponsorships

Group asks Motorists to Make Driving Sober a New Year Resolution

News & Press

Group asks Motorists to Make Driving Sober a New Year Resolution

Thursday, December 27, 2012
Source: ProJo.com

Law enforcement, state and federal officials along with community partners gathered Thursday to discuss the “365 Days of Safety Awareness Program.” At far right is Tori Lynn Andreozzi, who was hit by a drunk driver in 2003.

LINCOLN, R.I. — As New Year's festivities approach, a group representing the 66 people who lost their lives in R.I. motor vehicle accidents in 2011 gathered Thursday at the Community College of Rhode Island campus to raise awareness about drunk driving.

Of those deaths, 24 were alcohol related, officials said.

Members of the State Police, the state's Police Chiefs Association, National Highway Safety Administration, state Department of Transportation, AAA Southern New England , Mothers Against Drunk Driving and others asked motorists to make driving sober part of their New Year's resolutions to ensure 365 days of safety.

Among those present: Tori Lynn Andreozzi, 22, who was hit in 2003 by a drunk driver as she walked home from West Warwick's Deering Middle School.

Original Article: http://news.providencejournal.com/breaking-news/2012/12/365-days-of-safety-awareness-programready.html

A Dramatic Message from the State Police

News & Press

A Dramatic Message from the State Police

Thursday, December 27, 2012
Source: The Pawtucket Times

A sobering pre-New Year’s message about the dangers of drinking and driving was issued yesterday by State Police and the self-described numbers-crunchers of highway injury statistics, but no one put it more eloquently than Tori Andreozzi. She said nothing.

Incapable of speaking, the 22-year-old woman sat awkwardly in a wheelchair while a family member held a sign above her head that said, “I am the victim of a drunk driver.”
Andreozzi was 12 years old when she stepped off a school bus and was struck by a drunken driver in West Warwick. The former martial arts star suffered traumatic brain injuries that left her a quadriplegic, totally dependant on others for the most routine functions of everyday life.

She was Exhibit A as the State Police vowed to redouble their efforts to curb drunken driving and other risky motoring behaviors in the year ahead. Officials from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the state Department of Transportation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and North Cumberland Emergency Medical Services were on hand to help State Police Supt. Steven O’Donnell kick off the campaign, dubbed “365 Days of Safety Awareness.”

The national death toll from motor vehicle accidents has been steadily trending downward for decades, reaching its lowest ebb in 62 years in 2011. But O’Donnell said the figure — 32,376 fatalities, about a third of which involved an impaired motorist — is still far too high.

“Highway deaths are more than double the number of persons murdered nationwide,” he said. “We should be shocked and outraged by these numbers.”

In Rhode Island, 66 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents last year, including 24 that involved alcohol. Rhode Island actually outperformed the nation in reducing the proportion of deaths linked to alcohol, with an 11 percent decline from 2010, according to NHTSA.

The presentation in the cafeteria of the Community College of Rhode Island dramatized the highway carnage by substituting living human beings for those lost on the roads last year. Those killed by drunken drivers wore red T-shirts, and everyone killed for some other reason, including speeding, texting while driving and failure to wear seatbelts, wore black.

“Our numbers are actually people,” said Gabe Cano, regional director of NHTSA, the federal agency that tracks highway injuries, fatal and otherwise. “They’re brothers, sisters, husbands …”

While Cano wasn’t suggesting people shouldn’t enjoy themselves during the holidays, he said they could avoid the risk of injury or arrest simply by planning ahead. Don’t drink and drive, appoint a designated driver who isn’t impaired and if you know someone has been drinking, don’t allow that individual to get behind the wheel, he advised.

O’Donnell said all motorists can help by dialing *77911 on their cell phones to alert authorities if they see someone else driving erratically.

“Think about this when you’re out with your friends,” offered Phil Kydd, deputy director of the state Department of Transportation. “It’s actually cool to be responsible.”

DOT proclaimed zero highway fatalities to be a worthy goal for 2013, but the state’s official target is to cut highway deaths in half by 2030.

“Sometimes we worry about the message getting stale,” said Kydd, “but when you take a look at these red shirts, black shirts, there’s nothing stale about it.”

Lloyd Albert, senior vice president of public and government affairs for AAA of Southern New England, called the goal of zero deaths “a good one, no matter how elusive that goal might be.”

In addition to the living humans who served as stand-ins for 2011’s death count, about 30 police officers from departments all over the state were on hand for the pre-holiday presentation, forming a phalanx behind the speakers’ lectern.

At one point, the living stand-ins for 2011’s highway deaths were instructed to step aside from the lectern, but there was still one real-life victim of a drunk driver left behind when they cleared the area — Andreozzi
Cathy Andreozzi, her mother, said the motorist responsible for maiming her daughter was ordered to serve 10 years in prison and ended up serving six.

“There’s no amount of time that can ever make up for it,” she says. “As a parent, you want to fix things. The best I can do now is support law enforcement, support MADD and maybe I can fix it for other families so it doesn’t happen to them.”

MADD-RI Urges State to Buckle Down on Drunk Driving Laws

News & Press

MADD-RI Urges State to Buckle Down on Drunk Driving Laws

Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Source: Tiverton Patch

Advocates reported Rhode Island as one of the highest ranking states for drunk driving fatalities during Saturday's holiday awareness campaign launch held at East Providence Lanes.

By Raymond Beltran

Police officers from across the state joined Rhode Island's Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) at East Providence Lanes Saturday afternoon for the group's annual awareness campaign kickoff. Before the Holiday Highway Safety Awareness Event turned into a bowling tournament, those present used their platform to advocate tougher laws relating to drunk driving.

East Providence Police Chief Joe Tavares said that he saw Saturday's kickoff event as a reminder “to do more” to curb drinking-and-driving across the state. Tavares, who later accompanied his fellow officers tying a MADD ribbon to police cars, also pointed to efforts in East Providence to curb drinking issues.

“We're taking on many of the liquor establishments, both retail, restaurants and others, so as to prevent that individual from even getting into the vehicle,” Tavares said. Tavares also mentioned the city's youth decoy program  as an example of individual communities fighting alcohol abuse. The program has resulted in multiple violations and showcase hearings across the city.

Saturday's event included a personal example of the pain drunk driving can cause. Cathy Andreozzi brought her now wheelchair-bound daughter, Tori Lynn, before the gathered crowd, speaking of Rhode Island's need to adopt stricter laws regarding intoxicated driving.

“There is much work to be done,” Andreozzi said. “There are [many] steps that can be taken. Rhode Island has been in this battle for over 30 years and certainty it's not for the lack of efforts, but we are still at the bottom.”

MADD has developed a rating system by which it measures each state. Ranging from one to five stars, the ratings are tied to how many of MADD's suggestions a state implements. These include sobriety checkpoints on roadways; administrative license revocation; child-endangerment laws; vehicle interlock systems for first-time convicted drunk drivers; and no-refusal laws.

By MADD's standards, Rhode Island is lagging in efforts to effectively deal with drunk driving. The group has assigned the Ocean State one star, a sole recognition of its present child endangerment laws relating to alcohol. Yet Saturday's event presented the urgency of the organization and its allies to make Rhode Island subscribe to the additional benchmarks devised by MADD.

At Saturday's event, Steven Pare, commissioner of Public Safety for the City of Providence and chairman of MADD-RI, referenced the slightly higher ratings handed out by the group to Rhode Island's neighbors, along with a statistic that placed Rhode Island in the “top five states in this country that continually has a high percentage of alcohol-related fatalities.”

The state's legislature has been reluctat to adopt MADD's proposals, citing their potential unconstitutional nature, according to Pare.

“There's alway a balance with freedom, and there's always a balance with enforcement and incarceration,” Pare said in response to Rhode Island's sensitivity to safeguarding constitutional rights. Pare added that, in the legislature, “there's resistance to the tools which we've advocated.”

A resistant General Assembly has not deterred MADD advocate Cathy Andreozzi from focusing on the group's intended results – even if those results mean more of a clamp-down on non-offenders.

“We need to convey to the legislative body that the rights of the individuals who are doing exactly what they should be doing, when they should be doing it, cannot weigh the rights of those who have made a willful, irresponsible and illegal choice,” Andreozzi said.

‘Foundation Outfits WWPD with New Vests’ – by Kendra Leigh Miller

News & Press

“Foundation Outfits WWPD with New Vests” – by Kendra Leigh Miller

Friday, July 20, 2012
Source: Kent County Times

After experiencing a life-changing moment, 21-year-old Tori Lynn Andreozzi is still making a difference in the lives of others.  She and her mother, Cathy, were presented a certificate of appreciation Tuesday for donating tactical vests to members of the West Warwick Police Department.

These vests, similar to what the military uses, are made of lightweight, flexible material and cover the officer’s torso and upper arms with pockets that can be moved around.

Patrolmen Joshua Kennedy and Detective Tony Bettencourt, who demonstrated the protective  vests, said any new equipment the department gets is welcome.

“They are much lighter and cause much less fatigue and much more flexibility,” said Kennedy.

“A call can last for hours,” said Bettencourt. “You never know how long you’ll have to be in your gear.  Our other vests are falling apart.  Having these is such a great thing.” 

The new vests were donated through the Tori Lynn Andreozzi Foundation, established in 2003 after Tori, then 12, sustained a severe brain injury after being hit from behind by a drunk driver while she and her brother were walking home from the bus stop after school.

Prior to the accident, Tori was very involved in karate, she always made time for others and always wanted to help those in need and served as a protector if a fellow playmate was being bullied.

The accident injured Tori from her waist down and from her shoulders up.  Her heart stopped a number of times once she arrived at the hospital and she was left without the ability to walk, speak, or eat but because she is a fighter, Tori miraculously survived.

“Her favorite movie is ‘Pay it Forward’,” said Cathy, “and I know her fighting spirit helped her get through the toughest days in the hospital.”

As a way to help other organizations like MADD, SADD, the Brain Injury Association of Rhode Island, Youth in Action and other outreach programs in educating people that a split second can change someone’s life forever, she started the Tori Lynn Andreozzi Foundation.  100 percent of the foundation’s proceeds go toward an organization or program.

The mission of the Foundation is to educate young people about good decision-making, inform the community about ways it can make a difference, promote legislation that improves highway safety, draw awareness to traumatic brain injury, and support families dealing with tragedy.

Cathy said through the countless challenges of the medical issues, research of brain injury and knocking down doors for information to offer her daughter the best care possible she, Tori, and Tori’s older brother Robbie take steps forward every day.  Cathy said Tori and Robbie have a special sibling bond that seems to transcend the injury, which have been very instrumental in her rehabilitation.

“One of the most challenging parts has actually been driving by the middle school where it happened,” Cathy said.  “I still purposely avoid certain things.”

Cathy knows there are things her daughter will never experience but she’s choosing to focus on what Tori is able to do.

“She inspires me every day,” said Cathy.  “Law enforcement deals with tragedy too much and it got me thinking, how can they affectively protect us if they don’t have the right equipment to protect themselves?”

West Warwick Police Chief Richard Silva said Cathy has been great.

“She approached us and asked if we had any needs,” he said.  “Now the department has four new tactical vests.”

Her mother said the two have visited the ACI, where Cathy has shared their story. 

“People have made bad choices and the kids who have seen her picture will come up and will tell us they’ve been inspired to do better,” she said.  “They tell us that if she can deal with adversity, then they can deal with whatever’s going on in their lives.  It helps them put things into perspective.”

 

RIDOC Happenings

News & Press

RIDOC Happenings

Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Source: Rhode Island Department of Corrections

Upcoming & Recent Events & News of Interest to the RIDOC Community – Volume VI, Issue 5

Mock Car Crash Presents Strong Message

News & Press

Mock Car Crash Presents Strong Message

Monday, May 14, 2012
Source: Westerly Sun

SADD (Students against Destructive Decisions), Westerly High School recently staged a mock car crash on Wednesday, April 11 in efforts to raise awareness against drunk driving.

The crash depicted the scene of a two car crash on prom night, resulting in the “fatality” of six students, and the injury of one, and one arrest.

Prior to the crash, which was staged on the track, juniors and seniors (the age group SADD felt was of a higher risk to be exposed to such activities) were placed in the gym and shown a brief video.

The video depicted two groups of high school students getting ready for prom; one group consuming alcohol beforehand. The video ended with both groups of teens entering their cars, making their way to the prom.

A staged 911 call was then made, alerting students of the “crash” which they later made their way to.

Prior to going outside, Cathy Andreozzi, whose daughter Tori’s middle school encounter with a drunk driver left her permanently debilitated, spoke to the group about the severity and possibilities of driving under the influence.

Students listened quietly as Andreozzi told the emotional story of her daughter’s accident, until they quietly ushered themselves to the track’s bleachers.

Several local rescue squads were at the scene of the crash, including ambulances from numerous districts, police squad cars, trucks from both local and neighboring fire departments, and even a Life Star helicopter.

Emergency rescue personnel treated the situation as though it were a real life emergency, and students watched intensely as the crew worked as fast as possible to “rescue” their peers from the wreck.

As spectators sat quietly, they watched the mangled bodies of their friends lay completely still, covered in blood. One by one, after failed attempts at resuscitation each of the six students were covered with sheets and left for students to understand the harsh consequences of drinking while driving.

Of the six students killed that day, one was senior class co-president, John Pacitti.

“I hope this really impacted the students at our school,” Pacitti said.

Pacitti added “I hope kids realize that if they got behind the wheel after drinking, they aren’t just endangering themselves, they are endangering everyone else that’s on the road, even strangers. It just seems like most kids feel like that stuff wouldn’t happen to them, and hopefully this made them realize it could happen to anybody”

Junior, Jessica Fontana believes this activity was a “wake up call” for many students, explaining “the car crash was a success because it showed what could really happen if one student made one stupid decision, how many people it could really impact”.

Fontana believes this operation should be continued in the future because “even if just one student takes away from it, that’s one more student educated that was not aware of the consequences before, and the operation is a success”.

Administrators and community members also believe the mock car crash was a successful display of the dangers of drinking and driving, and wish to continue this event for future students to come.

MADD for Safety: Advocates Address Drunk Driving Consequences

News & Press

MADD for Safety: Advocates Address Drunk Driving Consequences

Tuesday, May 01, 2012
Source: The Archway

Over 300 of Bryant University’s students, faculty, and staff signed a pledge to not drink and drive in an effort to bring attention to a dangerous action. In addition, two Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) advocates and Bryant University’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) participated in a speakers series hosted by Bryant University’s Society for Resource Management on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 in Janikies Auditorium.

Victim Robin Monica, shared her story about her son’s deadly decision to drink and drive. She emphasized that drinking and driving is a preventable choice, urging people to, “think about the effect your decision has on your family,” before acting.

MADD advocate Cathy Andreozzi, talked about her daughter’s experience getting hit and the struggles they have faced keeping her daughter alive. Andreozzi emphasized that, “life as you know it can change in a moment.”

Stephen Bannon, the newly appointed Director of Bryant University’s DPS unit talked about the severity of drinking and driving and the new law that passed allowing officers to obtain a search warrant for blood in cases of DUI.

Candy Lightner founded MADD in 1980 after a drunk driver killed her daughter. Lightner found out that drunk driving was infrequently prosecuted strictly and vowed to advocate for victims and change the legal consequences of driving drunk. In 2000, drunk driving fatalities dropped 40 percent (http://www.madd.org).

About one-half of all fatal car crashes among 18- to 24-year-olds include alcohol (http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov) and many of those students are enrolled in college. Drinking and driving on college campuses remains a public health issue and MADD advocates Robin Monica and Cathy Andreozzi alongside DPS’s Stephen Bannon reiterated the importance of the issue.

When you come to the edge of the light you know and are about to step off into the darkness, faith is knowing one of two things will happen… there will be something solid to stand on, or you will learn to fly