Two programs blaze trail in fight against DUI, underage drinking

Just about everyone concedes that underage drinking and driving while intoxicated are major sources of tragedy, not just in our region but in the nation.

Knowing a problem exists and doing something about it are two different things, however.

In Lycoming County, there are not one but two unique organizations doing something about alcohol-related problems. Both recently marked milestones worth mention.

Lycoming County was only the second county in the state to get a grant to create a council to raise awareness of drunken driving three decades ago. Since that time, the council has launched many programs that have helped drive down alcohol-related tragedies locally and throughout the state.

The connections the council has made resulted in such things as Lycoming County’s DUI Processing Center, an increased number of officers trained in field sobriety testing and expansion in testing for other drugs.

The council was carried in its formative years by a few stalwarts. Among them was Chris Smith, whose focus has been the Community Traffic Safety Project. She was rightfully honored for 30 years of service at a recent council event.

The other notable milestone recently was a decade of existence for the Lycoming County Underage Drinking Court, which has pulled down reoffending rates and guided youth through a unique program.

The program is a holistic one, focusing not just on drugs and alcohol. It covers personal exploration, educational projects and an examination of each person’s inner strengths, talents and goals.

Does it work? Leaders of the program have a thick stack of testimonials from those who say it does.

The alternative, with underage drinking and driving while intoxicated, is a collective sigh and doing nothing.

In Lycoming County we have two programs trying to do something to attack both problems. We should all be thankful for that.