The 17-year old Basking Ridge student accused by police with driving drunk to school along with five other young men in an overloaded car with a blown tire is scheduled to appear in Bernards Township municipal court on March 11.
The driver, who police said had a blood alcohol content of .27 percent, was issued motor vehicle summonses on Jan. 22 for DWI within 1000 feet of school property, DWI while underage, reckless driving, unsafe tires, and transporting passengers while a probationary driver.
The incident has sparked a renewed debate among the school board about instituting random student drug testing in schools as well as interest in an anonymous student substance abuse survey being conducted this month by the Bernards Township Municipal Alliance Against Substance Abuse, according to the Bernardsville News.
Also, a community forum has been called for 7 p.m. on March 13 at Ridge High School, when parents and high school students will hear from experts and can ask questions about drug abuse trends.
Due to snowy conditions, Ridge High School was operating on a delayed opening schedule on Wednesday January 22, the day of the alleged offenses.
According to the police account of the incident, Det. Robert Herndon observed an overloaded black 2010 Infiniti G37 traveling on Lake Road near Brookridge Drive with a right front flat tire, “so blown it was almost off the rim.” The officer saw one of the passengers sitting on the front center console, unsecured.
The officer pulled the vehicle over and approached the car to tell the driver about his blown tire at 10:10 a.m., but the driver seemed to not understand, said Officer Herndon in his police report. The officer said he noted that the driver smelled of alcohol, had bloodshot and watery eyes, slurred speech and difficulty hearing and answering questions as well as maintaining his stance when standing.
According to the officer’s account “he admitted to consuming ‘some shots’ prior to leaving his friends house to drive to school.”
Parents were summoned to pick up the male passengers, who were all Basking Ridge residents. Their ages were 14, 17, and three aged 18, according to police.
The driver was taken to the police station and administered the New Jersey Alcotest Calculator. Two samples indicated a .27 percent Blood Alcohol Content– over three times the allowable limit for an adult. But because the driver is under the legal drinking age, there is no minimum allowable amount at all.
The Infiniti was impounded and the driver was released to his mother.
According to the Bernards Township municipal court, he will be represented by attorney Kevin E. Young of Toms River.
Because of his status as a juvenile, Patch is withholding the driver’s name.
What are the substance abuse issues in town, and what strategies do you believe are effective? Tell us in the comments.