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How common was drunken driving when you were in high school?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on February 6, 2007

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Photo of Keith Moore

“I would say it was fairly common. I would think that in a place like Lawrence with SafeRide and everything it would be less common, but it’s still something to be concerned about.”

Photo of Katie Macfee

“A lot more common than it should have been. I think it’s probably even more common today. Not because more kids are drinking, but because more of them have their own cars.”

Photo of Derrick Darling

“Very common. I drove drunk often, very slowly, but often. It took me a couple of years to wise up.”

Photo of Jeanne Elder

“I think there is more of it now than in my high school days. When things are forbidden, they are more enticing. When I was a teacher, exchange students from countries with lower (drinking) age restrictions said it wasn’t a big problem where they were from.”


jonas 11 years, 1 month ago

Not as common as drunken driving in college, that's for sure.

Drunken bicycling? Now that's another story.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 1 month ago

Dazed and Confused is hilarious. Well worth watching.

sourpuss 11 years, 1 month ago

Well, I didn't go to HS in the 70's, and I also knew enough not to drink, especially under age. I certainly wouldn't have dreamed driving after having a drink. I'm sure some of it happened during my HS years, but I doubt it was as rampant as the 70's kids on here are reporting. Of course, by the time I went through HS, we had MADD and other such organizations, and I think police were probably better at setting up checkpoints. Personally, I think drunk drivers should have the book thrown at them the first time, as there is no excuse for that sort of endangering behavior, but I also think there should be scaled punishments for how drunk you are, as 0.8 is impaired and should get a wrist-slap, but I have no tolerance for the falling-overs.

As far as HS kids drinking, as long as it is illegal for them to do so, then they should do jail time - 24 hours or something light, just to kick them in the butt. They should also attend manditory rehab for alcoholics, even if they aren't an "alcoholic" - at their expense of course. And for you college kids that like to drink, go out and vote for change.

trinity 11 years, 1 month ago

oh sourpuss...darlin' it WAS as rampant in the '70's as we make it to be!!! holy smokes...if you've never seen "dazed&confused" watch it; and if you think it's all fantasy or overblown, nope it is not. i adore that movie takes me back to high school! with the exception of the paddling that is, lmao. you got that right r_t, drunk&stoned-the only way to fly around ottawa&franklin county in the 70's!

trinity 11 years, 1 month ago

heh-yeeeaaaaahhhhh. oh yeah&had to have foghat&kansas blasting out of the 8 track too! just to name a couple...

heck yeah we had to drive drunk, how would we have gotten to the hollows or other assorted party roads out in the country&back to town?? sheesh!

back then they'd dump it out for us&send us home, if caught by a cop though. big diff. from now.

cms 11 years, 1 month ago

Summer Jams, cruising the Blvd., school dances, skipping school, keg parties out in the middle of nowhere farm field, and slow gin. And various other recreational substances. Being a teen in the mid 70s was THE best. Straight out of Dazed and Confused. What fun!

Linda Aikins 11 years, 1 month ago


Harley, you're such a gentleman, keeping room for the ladies' drink.

Mike Curtis 11 years, 1 month ago

Cruising the square, Street racing, drinkin was quite normal. I don't condone it, but that's what we did. Never had an insurance claim in 35 years of driving either.

paladin 11 years, 1 month ago

Sourpud is absolutely right. And if that doesn't work, OFF WITH THEIR HEADS! I'm happy that someone is minding the liquor store. I was in high school in the sixties and would have never been caught drinking and driving, which resulted in several rapid and harrowing jaunts down through cornfields, across creeks, and on down the railroad tracks. Seriously though, the cooler full of Bud on the backseat, at all times, of my 55 chevy and the fifth of Blackjack under the seat was mostly for show and to facilitate social acceptance and interaction. I was, after all, an honor student. There have to be acceptable standards in any self-righteous society to keep the children safe and well, whether they like it or not. And, to make us old farts feel like we are significant and our lives are worthwhile, whether they are or not.

imagold 11 years, 1 month ago

I'm ashamed to admit I am guilty of drinking underage and driving under the influence back in the high school days of the early 70's. It's frightening and I'm really lucky I wasn't caught or involved in a wreck. I'm smarter now and would never have a drink and drive. Heck, I rarely have a drink. Guess I've matured a bit. Wish some others I know would do the same, but that's another story.

acg 11 years, 1 month ago

It was very common when I was in HS. My JR and SR years were at a country school and that's just what they do out there. They drink beer and drive up and down the gravel roads til all hours of the night. As bad as it is, though, I view that activity as mild compared to some of what I was up to. I look back at the things I used to do and cringe. It's a wonder I'm not in a pine box right now.

southerngirl 11 years, 1 month ago

Sourpuss, I went to Topeka West in the 80's and I went to some great parties and drove home -at least I think I did, the car and I both got home that's for sure! And recreational drugs weren't just in the 70's, they were still very present in the 80's. I know there was an angel riding on my shoulder during those years. I look back now and think stupid, stupid and VERY lucky-no accidents, no addictions, maintained my student-athlete status. Very, very lucky! (Please let my own children be safe, please let my own children be safe, please let my own children be safe....) d

Grundoon Luna 11 years, 1 month ago

Why do you think MADD was formed, dourpus? Yes, it was rampant in the 70s. I was there and so were a whole lot of other people posting on this board. You indicate that you are not a child of the 70s so you weren't, but don't call the rest of us liars just because you were Polly Purebread and can't fathom the extent of the situation. And guess what? Most of us grew up to be honest, hardworking, taxpayers.

My parents were wise not to provide a car for me so I was ridin', smokin', drinkin' and listenin' to Zepplin and Floyd.

Janet Lowther 11 years, 1 month ago

"We're gonna bust the high school students 'Cause they've been smoking dope Suspension from school For breaking the rules Will teach them a lesson we hope. (We really mean it!)

"You can hear the jack boots tromping Down the empty halls We're gonna stop the high school students If we have to bust them all."

  • The Austin Lounge Lizards.

This was brought to mind by some of the comments above.

RonBurgandy 11 years, 1 month ago

I can't say that I did in high school, but I knew that it was going on. It's kind of sad that people that age want and sometimes demand independence, but, in some situations when it comes to driving home from a party, clearly make the wrong decision. I understand that need to be "on your own" but too many times it ends up ending the life of people way too early.

It seems that some people are proud of their actions back in the day regarding this, I would hope that is not the case. I don't mean to sound like I'm nagging, and I apologize if I do, it's just it's sad to see someone ruin/end their life or the lives of others b/c of an obviously stupid decision as to drive drunk.

(Again, not trying to put myself on a high horse here, I have made many stupid decisions myself).

ms_canada 11 years, 1 month ago

Well, Azure gal, MADD was not formed when I attended high school. I am talking about way back in the late forties and early fifties, just to get a bit of perspective here. It was not my generation that started all the rowdiness of teens. Well, maybe it would have been if booze had been available to us. No way could young kids get ahold of a beer or whiskey. Good thing, I guess. But, you know what, we still found a way to have a good time and at times raise a little hell. :o)

sunflower_sue 11 years, 1 month ago

As a teen of the 80's...I'm sure it was fairly comon. I was usually the passenger in the car but I can fess up to driving drunk once. I knew it was a really stupid decision at he time but I did it anyway. Luckily, no harm came of any of it. Making stupid decisions at that age doesn't necessarily mean you're just means you're a TEEN. Yikes! I'll have two teens of my own soon enough and I can only hope that they make better decisions than I did at that age.
I think I'll now join southerngirl in her prayer vigil... (Please let my own children be safe, please let my own children be safe, please let my own children be safe....)

Ceallach 11 years, 1 month ago

August 1969? You did lead a sheltered life -- that's about the time the rest of our generation was returning from Woodstock :) Not me, of course, but the rest of the rowdies!!

Drunk driving was very common when I was in HS, we didn't have MADD either, but I did have my mother : -- after years of dealing with an Irish alcoholic husband -- that woman could tell you had been drinking at 10 paces, the type of alcohol at 5, at two or less she could practically tell you the brand :):) you certainly didn't want to be around that little German-Cherokee if you had been drinking!!

alm77 11 years, 1 month ago

It was common when I was in high school as well, and that was in 1995. I didn't do it, because I always got caught at everything I did wrong, so I was smart enough not to be behind the wheel (not to say I wasn't ever in the passenger's seat (not smart either)) BUT what I do remember is that we lost at least one student due to drinking and driving EVERY YEAR with the exception of my graduation year. My brother is 10 years younger than I am and he just graduated. They had MANY fewer fatalities than we did. Hopefully kids are wising up.

trinity 11 years, 1 month ago

blue you summed it all up quite nicely! thanks!

mom_of_three 11 years, 1 month ago

I didn't drink in high school in the 80's, but others did drink and drive and weren't lucky. My high school was about 800 students, grades 9-12.
I think it probably happened everywhere. Doesn't make it right, just makes the survivors very lucky

good_friend_of_bill 11 years, 1 month ago

Marion, you were one hell of a godless sodomite Bless your have repented and gave yourself to the LORD!!!!!! This passage i have memerized and have dogeard. Habakuk woe to the wicked Indeed because he transgreses by wine, be is a pro ud man,nd he dos not stay at home. because he inlarges his desire as hell, and he is like death, and canot be satisfyed, He gathers to himselve all nations and heaps up for himselve all peopels. will not all these take up a proverb against him, and a taunting riddle against him, and say, woe to him who gives drink to his neighber, pressing him to your bottel, even to make him drunk, that you may look on his nakednes! rejoyce in your new life. thankyou Another friend of bill

paladin 11 years, 1 month ago

In the sixties I hardly ever drove without drinking or drank without driving. That was the norm, at least among my group of friends and acquaintances, several of whom died in alcohol involved auto accidents. Deanie, who died in his 1965 Mustang, drunk. Stanley, who was 7 feet tall and a good guy to have along in testy situations. Larry and Larry, who died in Larry's '49 Chevy coupe, which was features in Hot Rod magazine, also drunk. Alvin, who died in his Roadrunner, also drunk. All were great guys and decent people. I was spared, for some reason, which I'm still trying to figure out. I was a slow learner, but very blessed. Now I don't drink or drive either. Ain't Life strange?

trinity 11 years, 1 month ago

goodbye stranger, betcha took the long way home in that vega eh?

trinity 11 years, 1 month ago

ahhhhhhhhhhh...but i wonder, did you give a little bit when somebody took a look at your girlfriend...

points to ponder. ;)

thisiknow 11 years, 1 month ago

Drinking was part of growing up when I was in H.S. You drank on the weekends and drove yourself and others there and back. There was no S.A.D.D. or MADD back then. Quarts of beer were 25 cents so you could drink for a quarter. The majority of us would not have done it had we been as educated about it as the kids are today.I know from having kids in H.S. that they do appoint drivers that take it seriously and do not drink. We were stupid and we were lucky to have survived .

sunflower_sue 11 years, 1 month ago

Trin & RI, sometimes "Casual Conversations" can lead to you becomming "Just Another Nervous Wreck," wondering: "Lord is it Mine?" With any luck, it will be a "Child of Vision."
Now, let's all quit this and go have some "Breakfast in America."

(did we cover them all?) My bro had that album, 'course I wasn't supposed to touch his albums let alone play them. Hee hee.

james bush 11 years, 1 month ago

3.2 beer at Kansas "under-age" joints was typical high school Friday-night behavior for "normal" boys and "fast" girls in the 50's! Legal in Kansas was 18 and 21 in Missouri as memory serves, but 16 was overlooked by most "county" drinking establishments in both states.

trinity 11 years, 1 month ago

oh and those were the days of fake id's! i remember sending a school picture&a $5 money order to some outfit in california(got the info off the back of some weird magazine, lol)and voila, suddenly this 15 year old was 18! ;) i got in to any dang bar or club around with that thing.

and i remember getting hammered at the yuk when i was only 13! gawd. i shoulda been removed from my home; probably would have been, if it were today.

Kontum1972 11 years, 1 month ago

astronauts in love....possible members of the Elite Mile High Club....Luke pull the Plug...!

Ceallach 11 years, 1 month ago

That sounds like my mother, RI! Once my brother came home "polluted" as you say, my mother made him bend down so she could slap him! and he did!! (I remember it well . . . and smile :)

redwaggoner 11 years, 1 month ago

I for one could not then, and nor can I now, see any logic in getting "soused". I grew up in the fifties and graduated H/S in '62 (LHS) when only a few of the "in crowd" went bar hopping..when they could. Perhaps my parents (God rest their souls) broughtme up with better Christian logic than parents do today!

beatrice 11 years, 1 month ago

The difference between a drunk and an alcoholic is that the alcoholics have those damn meetings.

That NASA love story is certainly a Space Oddity. Maybe weightlessness does effect the brain after all.

Bone777 11 years, 1 month ago

20-25% of the people in the car were drunken driving.

The other 3 or 4 of us were drunken riding.

Bone777 11 years, 1 month ago

How odd the "NASA love story" is, kind of 'Depends' how you look at it....

sunflower_sue 11 years, 1 month ago

"Perhaps my parents (God rest their souls) broughtme up with better Christian logic than parents do today!" -redwaggoner

Maybe, but I doubt it. Being the daughter of a Sunday school teacher and mandated to go to church every Sunday, I think I was brought up with tons of "Christian logic" (whatever that is). I think you were just not the type to push boundaries. I, therefore, will give you permission to do something naughty...jaywalk on Mass Street. (Watch out for cars though, and definitely don't let the cops catch you!)

Linda Aikins 11 years, 1 month ago

ar ar ar ar, Bone.

Wonder how this story leaked out in the first place? Did she bladder it all over town?

Bone777 11 years, 1 month ago

Gootsie - woo hoo hoo!!!!!

Pun is fun!

bevy 11 years, 1 month ago

Gootsie - shame shame shame. (ROFLMAO!)
I just saw the astronaut story. Couldn't believe the victim rolled down the window so she could get pepper sprayed.

It is true that love rots your brain. What a sad waste of a good education, and what must be a good mind to make it into the space program. I thought it was funny that the reporters seemed to think the fact that she's an astronaut makes it ok that she was wearing a diaper.

As to the OTS question, I only drank and drove one time in HS, and it scared me so bad I never did it again. I was a founding member of the SADD chapter at my HS.
My best friend drank enough for both of us, and wore out a few guardian angels - and totalled her dad's big 'ol 4 door Ford. Luckily she wasn't hurt.

Lost a good friend to a drunk driver - oddly enough, an older guy hit and killed my buddy - not one of the dozens of drunken high schoolers traveling that same road that night.

But if you lived in the country (or a small town miles from anyplace as I did) there were only three activities on the weekend - Drink, drive, and park. Thus high rates of alcohol related fatalaties and teen pregnancy.

Kids today are hopefully smarter.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 1 month ago

TOB and Ceal, I was just slipped this link by an anonymous source:

Apparently, there is not a "slut gene" but rather a bacteria that is the culprit. Who knew?

Grundoon Luna 11 years, 1 month ago

Does it mutate to the "whore dog" gene in males?

sourpuss 11 years, 1 month ago

My apologies to everyone who was offended that I wanted to believe not everyone in the 70's were drunk, stoned idiots. Okay, you WERE all drunk, stoned idiots. Happy now?

And no, I haven't seen Dazed and Confused all of the way through. I watched the first 20 minutes or so, but it really was pretty boring.

I grew up with an alcoholic. I'm glad people on here think that lifestyle is really wonderful, but it kills people, it ruins families, and it isn't to be glorified. I have no problem with drinking in moderation, but drunk driving isn't okay.

I'm glad you all survived your high school excesses to brag about them now. Personally, I'm proud that I wasn't stupid when I was 16.


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