San Juan resident hopes documentary will curb teen drinking and driving in SBC

Every time Jennifer Roybal-Marquez sees a roadside memorial, she
is reminded of why what she is doing is important. And every time
she meets a family who has lost a loved one to drunk driving, her
sense of purpose is renewed.
Hollister – Every time Jennifer Roybal-Marquez sees a roadside memorial, she is reminded of why what she is doing is important. And every time she meets a family who has lost a loved one to drunk driving, her sense of purpose is renewed.

For the past month, the San Juan Bautista resident and owner of Seal Rock Marketing in Salinas has been working on a documentary she hopes will be shown at local high schools to educate teens about the dangers of drinking and driving. The video or DVD is slated for completion in June, when it will be shown at all local high schools, as well as on local television stations and distributed among parents.

Roybal-Marquez was spurred to action after reading about alcohol-related car accidents in the local press as well as meeting families who had lost children to drunk driving, she said.

“It’s disheartening to see young kids losing their lives and what it does to their families,” she said.

There have been 121 DUI-caused car accidents in San Benito County in the past three years, according to Brad Voyles, public information officer for the California Highway Patrol. Of those, six were fatal, including 20-year-old Adam Baxter, who was killed when a car driven by his best friend who had been drinking overturned on Jan. 2.

San Benito County Sheriff’s Department is collaborating with Seal Rock on the project, in hopes of educating not only teens, but their parents, who don’t always put their foot down when it comes to underage drinking, said Sheriff Curtis Hill.

“We need to work on the culture of acceptance of alcohol-abuse in our community,” he said. “It’s parental responsibility to get parents to prevent their kids from drinking.”

Since beginning to work on the project, Roybal-Marquez and her business partner, Steve Medlin, have collected archived news clips of alcohol-related car accidents and plan on filming inside the San Benito County morgue and jail to warn kids about where they might end up if they decide to drink and drive. They also intend to interview parents of teens recently killed in alcohol-related accidents, to drive home the point that the consequences are serious to not only them, but their family members and the rest of the community.

California ranks second for highest alcohol-related fatalities where more than 34 percent of fatal traffic accidents are caused by alcohol, according to CHP.

Many local kids underestimate the lethal result of drinking behind the wheel because they grow up watching violent movies and playing graphic video games, said Roybal-Marquez, who worked as a TV reporter and as a marketing manager in the Silicon Valley before starting her business in 2000.

“Kids are really desensitized to what can happen if they drink and drive,” she said. “This is a hard-edge approach to try to drive home the message.”

Karina Ioffee covers education and agriculture for the Free Lance. Reach her at (831)637-5566 ext. 335 or [email protected] news.com

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