Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : July 2007

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Branded D.U.I., the powerful video that dramatically shows Maryland high school students the consequences of drinking and driving through the eyes of their peers, has won an Emmy! A project of the Maryland State Bar Association’s Administrative Law Section and the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings, with production assistance from the Maryland Judiciary’s Media Department and Maryland Public Television, Branded D.U.I. previewed in high schools across the state during prom season in 2006 to discourage students from drinking and driving. This award-winning production captures the true horror of actual high school students’ drunk-driving experiences.

Last month, the National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences nominated Administrative Law Section Council member Yvette Diamond and MPT producer Kim Holcomb for Branded D.U.I. for a 2006 Emmy nomination in its Teen Program/Special Category. Although there were several submissions in that category, Branded D.U.I. was the only nominee and thus, the winner. The Emmy presentation was held June 16 during the local awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Branded D.U.I. features 11 young people who candidly discuss their first (and in many cases second) D.U.I. charges, graphically depicting the accidents they caused and, in two cases, the deaths. The video then traces their subsequent arrest, time in jail, encounter with the court, hearings and sentences and the precise consequences. The hardcore statistics on drinking and driving, graphic pictures of wrecked automobiles from their accidents and actual court scenes threaded throughout the video accentuate the young people’s experiences. The true essence of Branded D.U.I. is found in the actual consequences each faced and the severe impact this had on their daily lives as high school students.
The viewers contemplate the dangers of drinking and driving as teens describe what it is like to go to jail, be on probation, lose their driver’s license, miss out on school activities and sports, attend alcohol programs, lose college scholarships, and in the case of two teens, live with the knowledge that they are responsible for taking a life. They feel “branded” for life. The message from Branded D.U.I. is clear: Don’t drink and drive – it can happen to you.

Branded D.U.I. is the brainchild of Yvette Diamond, an Administrative Law Judge at OAH, who started to see an increasing number of young people before her facing D.U.I. charges. She wanted to reach out and effectively tell these kids the score, what they can expect if they drink and drive and what awaits them.

“It was clear they were not prepared for the consequences of their actions,” declares Diamond. “Many were astonished that they would lose their driver’s license, lose their job due to no transportation, lose scholarships, could no longer play sports and had to pay hefty fines.”

“Thus, we sought a public education program to educate teens and let them know the consequences they can expect if they choose to drink and drive,” states Diamond. “Kids think they are invincible; this shows them they are not. It can happen to them.” The kids in the tape realistically impart the consequences, emphasizing what they lost and what they couldn’t do. It is a lengthy list.

Diamond sought support from OAH, MSBA’s Section and Maryland’s. The concept for a video evolved as the best vehicle to reach out to high school students across the state and convey the message. To complement the video, MSBA attorneys, administrative law judges and district court judges volunteered to serve as presenters, visiting schools to present the video and answer questions. The goal was to send the video out just as prom time approached to save lives.

Branded D.U.I. took several years to produce and debuted in April 2006 during a special premiere at Baltimore’s National Aquarium, presented by MSBA’s Administrative Law Section and the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings to an audience of lawyers, judges, educators and others community leaders.

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: July  2007