Law, samaritans at odds

'Arrive Alive' volunteers could be at risk for felony charges

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— A presentation about starting a program to drive home teenagers after they've been drinking turned into a discussion about changing a Colorado statute on contributing to the delinquency of minors at the Oak Creek Town Board meeting Thursday.

State law 18-6-701 makes it a Class 6 felony to drive someone younger than 18 years old if he or she has been drinking, said Christie Fox, who presented a proposal for "Arrive Alive," a program to drive teenagers home safely after parties.

The statute means teenagers who drink alcohol at a party and call their parents for a ride home could end up getting a parent, or anyone else driving the car, arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Fox said the law makes it almost impossible for her to start "Arrive Alive," because she wouldn't be able to find volunteer drivers.

Oak Creek police, too, said they would not be able to support the program because of its legal consequences.

"It sounds like unintended consequences of state law have created conditions where (the program) is impossible," Trustee Mike Kien said.

Fox said she is looking into getting the law amended so that drivers don't have to worry about getting felonies if they decide to help a teenager who has been drinking get home safely.

To support Fox and the program, the Town Board said that it would send letters asking state representatives and Gov. Bill Owens to consider an amendment to the rule.

"We ought to encourage our kids not to drink and we all know that's not going to happen," Trustee Jim Eskridge said. "I just say go for it. I'll support you as far as I can."

Fox said she would do her best to make the changes.

"I will do anything it takes to get that law changed," Fox said.

Fox emphasized that the purpose of the program would not be to encourage underage drinking, but rather to save lives.

"It's not by any shape, form or manner condoning the kids to drink, but we know they're going to," Fox said. "The whole idea behind this is to bring these kids home alive."

Fox also said she was disappointed that more parents didn't attend the meeting because they would have been able to discuss the program. She was the only person to speak about the program Thursday night.

"Where are the parents?" she asked. "Why aren't they here discussing the issue?"

In other business, the Town Board heard a presentation from the Colorado Department of Transportation about the 2030 road improvement plan and made recommendations for local improvements, such as widening Colorado Highway 131.

The Town Board also approved the Historical Society of Oak Creek and Phippsburg's lease of Old Town Hall. With the lease, the society will be able to apply for grants to improve the building and organize collections.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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