New WRAL Documentary Explores High Drunk Driving Rate Among Hispanic Immigrants

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Focal Point: “Crossing the Line ”
New WRAL Documentary Explores High Drunk Driving Rate Among Hispanic Immigrants

Airs Wednesday December 5, 2007, 7pm

Focal Point While drunk drivers come in all colors and from all cultures, an unusually high number of them in our state are Hispanic immigrants. A new WRAL Focal Point documentary, “Crossing the Line,” examines the reasons for and consequences of the problem, and looks at some steps being taken to address it.  The documentary airs Wednesday, December 5 at 7pm on WRAL-TV and is hosted by WRAL news anchor and reporter Gerald Owens.

A study from the UNC Highway Safety Research Center showed that Hispanics involved in car crashes were two and a half times more likely to be drunk than white drivers and three times more likely to be drunk than black drivers.

Hispanics also account for 18% of drunken driving arrests, while making up less than seven percent of our state’s population. 

Drunk driving is also the number one killer of young Hispanic men in North Carolina. 

Focal Point: “Crossing the Line” examines the high rate of drunken driving crashes involving legal and illegal Hispanic immigrants and looks at the unique challenges law enforcement agencies and our courts face in trying to punish undocumented immigrants for driving drunk.

It profiles the case of Scott and Tina Gardner.  The couple from Mount Holly, North Carolina was hit by an illegal immigrant who was driving drunk.  Scott was killed and Tina was left severely brain-damaged. The driver, Ramiro Gallegos, had five prior drunken driving arrests, including a previous accident, and had also been deported twice. 

Representative Sue Myrick has introduced a bill in Congress called “The Scott Gardner Act,” which would require the deportation of any illegal immigrant convicted of DWI. 

The documentary also looks at efforts by Latino advocacy groups to reach out to Hispanic immigrants and educate them about the dangers of driving drunk.

Focal Point
“Crossing the Line” is the latest program in the WRAL News series called Focal Point.  These in-depth news documentaries focus on a single topic, bringing depth and clarity to complicated issues facing North Carolina.  From North Carolina’s economy and environment, to health care and race relations – Focal Point takes viewers inside the lives of the people most affected.  Focal Point tackles the tough questions with leaders and policymakers who have the power to effect change.  WRAL News anchors, including David Crabtree, Bill Leslie, Gerald Owens and Debra Morgan, host the series.  Six to eight new episodes of Focal Point will be produced each year. 

Focal Point: “Crossing the Line” will also air on other Capitol Broadcasting stations in North Carolina.  WILM in Wilmington will simulcast the program on December 5 at 7pm.  WMYT in Charlotte will air the program on Saturday, December 15 at 10:30pm. In addition, Web-only content is available at WRAL.com, keyword “Focal Point.”

Thanks to WRAL-TV’s Debbie Strange for this capcom story.

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